Reaching your writing goals depends on how you start

Writing goalsDid you list writing goals as your resolutions for New Year? At the start of every year, naysayers claim resolutions are a waste of time, but I say they’re missing the point.

Instead of worrying that you won’t persevere with your writing goals to the end of the year, embrace the excitement of starting, for this is your most productive time.

Humans love starts. Start of the year, start of a project, start of every week. The newness of it makes starts full of potential. Anything could be achieved.

There have been plenty of studies to back this up. Here are some ways to embrace starts to meet your goals:

Start a new challenge or goal on a Monday

An article on Psychological Science shows that people feel more positive about their goals on certain days that mark a new period. On these days, they are able to distance themselves from any past failures with goals. So make Monday mornings your day to write a short list of steps you want to take over the week to get you closer to your bigger goals.

If you want to read the article:

Why Monday is the Best Day for Setting New Goals

Start every day with any (or all) of these to boost productivity and success.

There are lots of books and websites offering the right way to start your day. Though the tasks might differ, they all have a similar philosophy — start with self-focus and in a positive manner. Here’s a collection of a few:

  • Writing goalsThe Miracle Morning for Writers suggests 30 minutes to an hour filled with:
    1. Silence or Meditation
    2. Affirmations
    3. Visualising your day
    4. Reading something that improves you
    5. Writing your thoughts, plans, ideas
    6. Exercise
  • Morning Pages are part of The Artist’s Way. When you wake, before anything else, write three pages by hand. There is something inspiring about connecting the pen with the mind. It doesn’t matter what comes out, just write whatever you are thinking. This
    helps to empty the trash or clutter that has built up, clearing the way for a creative day. You’ll be surprised at the great story ideas that can come from it.
  • Confidence positions  are an idea put forward by Amy Cuddy. The basic idea is that by making a confident pose, such as stretching to make yourself big, or putting your hands on your hips, you’ll trick your brain into thinking you are confident. If you’re heading out to promote your books or network, this is a great way to start your day.  
  • Hug yourself. I attended a lecture by Professor Pieter Rossouw on the brain and learning. Showing some self care by hugging or patting yourself on the back stimulates the hippocampus into regulating cortisol and relieving stress. You can also look in the mirror, smile and say, ‘Hi, I hope you have a great day!’ Apparently this will set you in a good mood for the day, which is beneficial for learning new things, and even extend your lifespan by reducing stress.

How do you start your day? I’ve tried many of these approaches, at the moment I’m enjoying my Miracle Morning routine. I track my progress in my daily planner. You can grab the daily planner for writers as a free download.

Stay creative!


How to set achievable writing goals for 2014

A new year dawns and brings with it inspiration, courage and determination, triggering many writers to set their writing goals or resolutions.

writing goals for 2014

There’s always been something magical about passing from one year to the next, a kind of promise that we can start afresh, or get one step closer to reaching our dreams. Somehow we’ll be wiser, kinder, faster, thinner, richer and more successful. January 1st offers hope.

Dreams inspire us and hope keeps us going, but the only way to achieve your writing goals in 2014 is to plan ahead. So how do you make the most of this burst of new year inspiration? Here’s some tips:

Know your writing goals

You’re unlikely to hit a target without knowing where it is. I want to be a successful writer is a fine dream, but it’s not a goal unless you know what you mean by successful, and you have a plan to reach that point. Achievable goals follow a clear path.

  1. Identify your long-term writing goals. This is easy. Do you want to be a published author? Do you want to be a best-selling author? Or perhaps you want to make enough money for a new house. There is no right or wrong dream for your future, it’s your life, what do you want from it? Write a short passage describing your idea of a successful future, what does it look like? Before you plan your yearly goals or resolutions, you need to know where you’re hoping those achievements will take you.
  2. What steps can you take in 2014? What areas of your writing career can you work on this year? Perhaps you need to sharpen an aspect of your writing, network with professionals in the writing industry, promote yourself, submit to editors or be more productive? You need to be honest with yourself if you want to move forward–there’s no point planning to submit more short stories, or market yourself, if you are not producing any writing products. If you make excuses to avoid writing every day, make a word count or minimum time to write part of your writing goals.
  3. Cull your goal list. This is the hardest part for many writers, including myself. Be realistic. You can’t do it all. Even if writing is your full-time profession, there will be other ares of your life that require attention such as family, health, finances, hobbies, and so on. If you have twenty writing goals on your list, are you really going to be able to achieve them in just twelve months? A goal list should be challenging but now stressfully exhausting. Try choosing a theme for your year, such as educating yourself, promoting your writing, submitting your work or focus on one novel from draft to releasing your novel. My theme for 2014 is ‘distribution’. I’ll be finding ways to make my work more accessible to readers through online platforms, bookstores, libraries, schools, and other markets. My writing goals will prioritise those issues, but of course I’ll still be writing, editing, learning and networking. You don’t give up the other areas of writing, instead you’ll focus and prioritise one aspect of your writing to help you get closer to reaching your long-term writing goals.
  4. Measure your progress. Goals need time-frames, or they become easily forgotten. If you say, ‘By the end of December 2014, I shall have submitted twenty-four short stories’, you’ll probably find come December you still have twenty-three left to submit. If you want to submit twenty-four stories, perhaps you could plan to submit one story every fortnight, or two stories at the start of each month, leaving the rest of the month to focus on writing more stories. Keep a chart of your progress, or a journal to acknowledge each time you stick to your writing goals. The great thing about measuring your goals is that there is no real failure. If you only ended up submitting twelve short stories over the year, and it was eleven more than you submitted the year before, that’s still a win.
  5. Remind yourself to achieve. Don’t leave your goal to manifest itself, remind yourself to work on it every day. Here’s some ways to trigger your focus:
    1. Keep an inspiration board by your desk.
    2. Set your writing goals as your screensaver.
    3. Put lists or pictures of your goals on the fridge and anywhere else you will see them.
    4. Write affirmations and say them aloud each morning.
    5. Add at least one step to your goal to each day’s ‘to-do’ list.
    6. Seek support from friends and family.
  6. Eliminate excuses. Of course you’ll have some failures, there’ll be days when you can’t be bothered and it will will always seem that this week is an inconvenient time to begin. Be kind to yourself when you fail, pick yourself up and move on. But do it now, not when ‘the timing is better’.

Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

Napoleon Hill

I won’t say ‘good luck’ with your goals, because it won’t come down to luck–it all depends on you, and I know you can do it! I’ll let you know how I go with my plans to increase distribution and will share my learnings along the way. I’m excited about 2014! Are you?