You’ve read all the craft books on writing you could get your hands on. Maybe you spent good money chasing a college degree or attending writers’ conferences. In fact, you’ve done everything you can think to do, except sit down and write.
If you’re like a lot of writers, your New Year’s resolution was to write more. And now that January is over, committing to it is getting harder as life gets in the way. Here are 7 ways to make your writing resolutions stick this year.
1. Set a big goal
Some experts say going big is the wrong way to start. But let your dreams inspire you. Put your big goal in writing and stick it where you’ll see it often during the day.
Share the goal with your friends and family so they can cheer you on. It helps to have your support system in place for days when the going gets tough. For example, you’ll want your spouse on your support team so they can look after the kids or do the housework when it’s time for you to write.
2. Now break it down
Dreams will never come to fruition without a plan. Your plan should be a list of small steps you can do every single day to move you towards your goal.
Make the steps easy and achievable. If your goal is to write a novel, break it down into pieces: writing time, finding an agent, researching your genre, understanding the market, locating designers and editors, finding beta readers, etc.
3. Assign a time to each step
Better yet, put each step on your calendar. Each segment you put on your calendar should correspond to a particular task in your plan.
Say you want to spend an hour a day on your writing but can’t seem to find a full hour in your schedule. You can break it down into three 20-minute segments or even six 10-minute periods. Some experts say you can easily find 10 or 20 minutes while you’re waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, on your lunch hour, etc. Nobody "finds" time—you must choose how you spend it.
4. Commit to yourself and others
Who don’t you want to let down? Promise that person you will stick to the schedule you came up with. Say your kids love the bedtime stories you tell them. Tell them you’re going to write down the stories to publish in a book and ask them to help you stick to it. Seriously, you can’t let your kids down, right?
But also commit to yourself. And don’t forget to reward yourself for sticking to your plan. For example, eat an ice cream cone each day you meet your schedule, or go see a movie after you’ve hit your word count for the week.
5. Don’t let setbacks stop you
One of the hardest things about resolutions is not giving up when we fail. And we will fail. Something comes up and you have to forfeit your writing time. It’s called life, and we should all learn to roll with it.
Forget perfection. Set your sights on finishing the next step in your plan. And take time to reassess your plan if it’s causing you problems. You can always scale your time back or break tasks down further to accommodate for busy days. Maybe you need to shoot for three 10-minute sessions, or thirty minutes a day. It’s not about how fast you get there. It’s about finishing.
6. Track your progress
Are you a visual person? Maybe you have a vision board or a board on Pinterest you use to visualize your novel. If so, tracking your progress on a board or calendar will boost your motivation, giving you momentum as you see progress being made.
Everyone gets a brain boost when they tick off that little "to-do" box. You can see where you started, where you are now, and how much closer you’re getting to your goal.
7. Get out of your own way
You know that small voice inside that whispers "you’re no good" and "you’ll never be a writer?" That voice is not your friend. Its negative comments are holding you back.
If you can’t replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, consider seeing a cognitive-behavioral therapist or a life coach. They’ll help you see your negative self-talk is rarely accurate and is only sabotaging your writing and your life.
It’s funny how we spend more time planning our vacation for the coming year than we do on reaching our writing goals. Did you set your writing resolution at the last minute before the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve? If so, you’re probably finding it hard to keep moving forward. Take heart, though. Your writing resolutions are within your reach. Following the above tips will help you stick to your plan and reach your goals this year.