8 Ways To Salvage Your Yearly Writing Goals
I definitely don’t want to alarm anyone, but I’m here to tell you that there are twelve weeks left in 2016. That’s right, twelve weeks. Until 2017. (Cue frantic flailing and musings on where the year has gone). Surely it was just yesterday that we were setting New Year’s Resolutions and laying out our lofty plans for a prolific year of writing, right?
Maybe you checked off every to-do and are ahead of the game, ready to settle in for a long, lazy winter. Go, you! But if you’re anything like me, you have a long list of goals set with good intentions that are nowhere close to being achieved, along with a growing panic that you’ve run out of time.
But here’s the thing. There is time. Three months of time. So, pull out that list of writing goals and let’s get moving on a plan of action to salvage the remaining weeks of this year.
Take a Deep Breath
Go ahead, do it. Take a deep breath. It’s easy to look at a long list of goals and feel overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to squeeze twelve months of work into three, but the first step in salvaging your year is to cut the panic at the start. Twelve weeks is actually quite a bit of time, and with a plan of action in place, you’ll be amazed at how much you really can get done. Plus, we are writers. If you’ve ever cranked out ridiculously high word counts with a looming due date, you know the power of a deadline. So put that inner editor to rest and have some faith.
Next, go ahead and take a good look at what you set out to accomplish in 2016. Maybe you wanted to draft a couple of short stories, or query agents with a finished project. Or maybe there was a novel inside of you that you were determined to get out in a shitty first draft. Whatever your goals, big or small, now is the time to reflect on what’s really important. Take out your red pen and cross out anything that can wait, and put a little star next to items that you can start now. Now’s the time to reflect on what worked during the year that you can use as momentum in these final weeks.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
No matter what the first nine months of 2016 looked like for your writing life, do not under any circumstances beat yourself up. Life is messy and motivation is uncertain, and right now all you need to move forward is some positive reinforcement. You have the time and tools to make these last three months your most productive yet. Chin up! You’ve got this!
Create an Action Plan
Now that the pep talk is over and you’ve reflected on the year so far, it’s time to make a plan of action. You know the drill. Set small, measurable goals and break down bigger projects into smaller chunks. Make those goals realistic. Can you knock out a chapter per month? A complete outline? 500 words a day? Then, do it. Be reasonable in your expectations, yet still allow yourself to dream big. And once you’ve determined your goals, put them in writing and post them where you’ll see them every day. Now is not the time to be wishy-washy or uncertain. Make it very clear to yourself what you are setting out to accomplish.
Find Hidden Pockets of Time
Now you’ve got your goals set, so it’s time to plan how you’ll accomplish them. Break down those goals into smaller steps and get them on your calendar or daily to-do list. Set appointments with yourself when you can, and find those pockets of wasted time for when you can’t. Maybe you can sneak in a few paragraphs while you’re waiting for the water to boil, or knock out a few sentences during commercials. Have a notebook or notes app ready to go for those little moments you find yourself free and waiting for something. Large, lofty goals are easily met when you make constant forward progress, no matter how small the increment. Take advantage of every moment!
Sharing Is Caring
Next, take your goal and share it! Tell a friend or trusted colleague about your plans. Talk to your spouse or loved ones. Tell them what you’re setting out to accomplish and allow them to hold you accountable. If you’re taking on NaNoWriMo, post to the message boards and find a writing buddy. Sometimes all we need to reach our goals is a little support.
And…go! Take your plan and implement it immediately. You’ve got accountability and a schedule, so there’s no time like the present to get started. Your most productive twelve weeks of the year begin now. Go forth and create!
Heading into some of the busiest weeks of the year with a big goal in mind might feel daunting, but the holiday season is rife with possibilities for rewards. Use all of those yummy holiday treats as prizes for a good writing session, and treat parties and other fun social gatherings as rewards for reaching bigger milestones. Once you’ve done the hard work towards reaching a bigger goal, use the spoils of the holidays to treat yourself right.
Take it step by step and remember that writing and being creative is first and foremost fun. You know what else is fun? Reaching a goal that you’ve set for yourself. The year might be speeding to its inevitable end, but be rest assured that you’ve got plenty of time to salvage your writing goals and make the most of 2016.
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