6 Steps to Reach Your Yearly Writing Goals

Studying_Scott_AkermanIt’s now November, which means, believe it or not, that 2016 is almost over. It seems like just yesterday that I was making writing goals for the year, but now that it’s almost over, I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I’d planned. If, like me, you’re nowhere close to finishing your goals, it may feel like you’ve run out of time. But, although we might not be able to do everything we’d planned, there is still time. Now isn’t the time to give up; it’s the time to make the most of the weeks we have left this year. Here are my tips for moving forward:

  1. Relax

When thinking about all the things you haven’t done yet, it can feel overwhelming. The first thing you might want to do when thinking about your writing goals is remind yourself to relax. Panic isn’t helpful now, and neither is guilt. Give yourself a pep talk if you need one. Take a deep breath and refocus.

  1. Re-evaluate

Take a look at what your goals for the year were. If you’re anything like me, you were overly ambitious when you made this list back in January. Chances are your priorities have changed, and some items on the list no longer seem as important as they once did. Cross off those items and focus on what’s left. What can wait, and what can’t? What can you start right now? Re-prioritize.

  1. Make a plan

Now that you know what you want to accomplish, make a plan to get it done. Break larger projects down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Break your biggest goals down into measurable, daily actions. Say that you want to finish a first draft of a new project. How many words do you think you have left? How many can you reasonably write per day or per week? Be reasonable with your expectations, but also be confident in yourself. Now, write everything down so you can refer back to it. Know exactly what you want to accomplish.

  1. Schedule time

This is often the hardest part: finding time. Most of us won’t be able to simply find free time in our day and use it. We have to carve the time out of our already busy schedules and make these goals a priority. Whether you use a calendar, a to-do list, or some other system, plan ahead and mark down which time is going to be dedicated to writing. Jot down your writing time as if it’s an appointment you must keep and treat it as such. And if you can’t set a solid block of time aside, look for little pockets of it here and there—maybe you have five minutes while waiting for the oven to pre-heat, or ten minutes on the bus. Maybe you can set your alarm thirty minutes earlier each morning and use the extra time to write. Take advantage of any moment you can find, and knock out those goals one second at a time.

  1. Be accountable

Hold yourself accountable for not meeting your goals. I’ve found the best way to do this is to work with a writing buddy who has similar goals, or at the very least to tell a friend or family member. Having someone ask, “So, did you write your 500 words today?” is a surprisingly effective form of motivation.

Recently, I attended a local author signing where the writer shared her process. She and a friend had a method called “5 for 5” where they set out to write five pages every day. If one of them didn’t write five pages that day, they’d have to pay the other five dollars! While this exact method may not work for everyone, I think it’s a great example of how to form a system with clear, measurable goals and accountability.

  1. Take it one day at a time

Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind. Even if you reach the last week of the year and realize you’re not going to finish your goals, don’t stop. Every little bit you can do counts, and will help you achieve your goals eventually. Just take things one day at a time and focus on doing as much as you can that day. Before you know it, your goals will fall into place.

What do you think? How do you reach your writing goals? Have you accomplished your goals from the year, or do you still have much more to do? Let me know in the comments!

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Related Links:

5 Tips for Drafting Faster

Tips for New Year’s Writing Resolutions

Publishing Plans and Release Schedules

Surviving NaNoWriMo: Week 1

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