Wednesday, January 4, 2012

5 Tips to Stick to Your Writing Resolutions in 2012

Starting a new year is great. It's the time to refresh and decide what opportunities and adventures one will explore for the next twelve months. The slate is wiped clean. The possibilities for the year are endless. Lots of people enthusiastically embark on shiny and ambitious goals at this time.

Unfortunately, most of those people never reach their targets. Their resolutions fall by the wayside and are completely forgotten a few months into the year.

Has this been you so far? Don't feel bad.

The other day, I found my 2011 resolutions. I had completely forgotten about that list. I met one goal. I wrote my first novel. I did something new when attempting to reach this goal. And I was successful. Here is what worked for me.

1. Break big goals up into smaller goals. In other words, make long-term and short-term goals. Goals will become less daunting and intimidating when you think in daily, weekly, and monthly terms. For example, if your yearly goal is "Write a novel" then you might decide your monthly goal would be "Write 10,000 words a month." This breaks down to 2500 words a week. That would mean your daily goal (let's say you just want to write Monday-Friday) would be around 500 words a day, depending on the month. 

Or if you're starting out with a daily goal, you need to make long-term goals along with it. If your daily goal is "Write 500 words each week day," then your weekly goal should be "Write 2500 words per week." And your monthly goal might be "Write 10,000 words each month." This adds up to 120,000 words a year. Before you know it, you'll have met your yearly resolution of writing a novel. Maybe two.

2. Make your goals specific. Instead of having a daily goal that is "Write novel" make it "Write 350 words for novel between 1 and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. This way, you know exactly what you have to do and when you are done. Cross off your met goal every day. You'll be amazed at how great you feel.

3. Look at your goals every single day. This means you need to write them down or type them out and print them. Then, put them where you will see them every single day. Get a corkboard, whiteboard, or a notebook that you look at every day. Every day, whether your meet your goals or not, look at those goals.

4. Reward yourself for meeting goals. Do this daily, monthly, and yearly. Watch your favorite show or have your favorite snack if you meet daily goals. Go somewhere nice to eat or splurge on something nice for yourself if you meet monthly or yearly goals.

5. Don't beat yourself up. Sometimes life happens. Look at the first of each month as a way to get back on track if you fell off to the wayside. Don't try to catch up if you miss a day or a week. Just try to reach that days's goal.

I had wanted to start writing my second novel by the first of January. But I also have to remember that I am nine months pregnant. I simply don't have the same energy as before. Not to mention there are last minute things to get done before the baby gets here. 

For you, it might be getting sick or a family member getting sick. Or something else that requires your attention. I'm not talking about a television marathon. But sometimes things come up. When this happens, adjust your goals and keep writing. 

And on good days when you meet or go over your daily word count goal without even realizing it, write a little bit more. You never know when you might need those words. 

Here are my resolutions broken down into small goals if you want an example.

My 2012 Writing Resolutions Broken Up Into Manageable Bites

1. Write second novel starting in January and finish by end of June. 
     I will write 500 words daily (Monday thru Friday), most likely in the late morning or early evening. I will write 10,000 words each month until I am finished. I will use Camp Nano in June to catch up or do any extra writing in order to finish on time.

2. Revise first novel starting in March and finish by end of April. 
    I will spend one hour each week day researching, revising, and editing. This means five hours each week and about 20 hours a month. I will do this for two months, but will adjust goal if more time is necessary.

3. Write third novel in Camp Nano August. 
    I will plan the first week or so and begin writing (500 words a day) in July. I will continue writing in August (1667 words a day). I will finish by end of August. 

4. Revise second novel starting in September and finish by end of December. 
    I will spend one hour a day, five days a week, revising and editing. This means 20 hours a week. I will do this from September until I finish, with the exception of November.

5. Start writing fourth novel during Nano '12 in November. 
    I will plan two weeks before and write 1667 words a day in November. I will have 50K words by Nov. 30th and will finish at my regular pace in December. 

6. Keep up blog. 
    I will post at least once a week and update once a week.

I keep all goals written in a notebook and big goals on a whiteboard. I keep daily, weekly, and monthly goals for everything in the notebook and check things off every day. 

I'll be posting a page with these goals on this blog.  It will help keep myself accountable and see how much I can really achieve. At the end of the year, I will compare how much I did to my list of resolutions. Wish me luck :)

What are your 2012 writing resolutions? Other big resolutions? How do you plan to achieve those goals? Have your succeeded or failed in the past? Why? What's going to be different this year for you? Or are your against the whole idea of yearly resolutions?


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