It’s a new year, which means starting or restarting those New Year Resolutions. Remember that goal you had last year to finish your novel? Or the goal you had to simply writing for half an hour a day? How did that go? If you successfully completed your goals then congratulations are in order! If not, this is the year to do it. Tell yourself that you will be successful and GO FOR IT, no looking back at your old self. The one that procrastinated and made excuses not to write. The suggestions below will help you meet your writing goals this year. Don’t make this blog another mindless “PIN” or thoughtless read-through. Take these ideas seriously and find the ones that will work for you and make you successful. Make the magic happen.
1. Make Writing Friends
Make writing friends? I know, it sounds like I'm asking you to conjure them out of thin air. No, what I mean is find ways to make friends who are also writers. They will motivate you, inspire your writing, and will be enormously supportive overall (if you’re lucky-you may need to look around a bit). If you have thought about joining a writing group or have been putting off meeting up with that writing friend of yours, now is the time to make a move. Join a group, call up that friend. Start growing these relationships. Whatever your reason is for not yet creating solid relationships with those people who will make your writing better (or at the very least, make you write!), those reasons don't matter. Just make it happen. If you’re shy, be courageous. If you have been procrastinating or not working hard enough to form these relationships, just work harder and schedule in time to do it. Look up a writing group in your area and join it now. Call that writing friend of yours and go out for coffee to talk about your stories.
2. Set Small Goals to Meet the Big Ones
Get a giant twelve month calendar and mark down when you want to have your big goals completed. Then go back and create smaller goals that will allow you to reach those big goals. I recommend this simply because when we look at the big goals they can be intimidating and sometimes seem impossible, but if we break up those big goals into smaller pieces we can see that it isn’t so impossible after all.
3. Pick a Time to Write Every Day
If you set a time (the same time) every day to write, you are more likely to keep writing every day. Personally, if I don’t set a time to write, I put it off all day until it’s late in the evening and I’m so tired I fear my eyeballs are going to pop out of my skull if I don’t close them. Set a time and do not deviate from it. Every day!
4. Schedule Time to Ponder
Yes, I want you to write down in your schedule a time to ponder, to relax, to go on a walk, to sit on the couch. To do whatever it is you do when you get your best ideas. We need this time as writers. We need it for our stories. For our readers. To create unforgettable characters and worlds. To come up with crazy awesome plots and, can't forget, those mind-blowing plot twists.
5. Take A Writing Journal With You Everywhere
We have all been there. You randomly have a stop-everything-you’re-doing-this-changes-everything idea and you have nothing to write it down on and suddenly it’s slipping away and you’re scrambling around searching through your car, your purse, etc. but *poof* it’s gone. AAAHHHHH! Disappointing, to say the least. Carry a small writing journal and have it with you always, or a notepad, sticky notes, anything. No more disappointing moments like that!
6. One Long Writing Session Per Week
You can write for an hour or half an hour every day, but I can almost guarantee you, your best writing will happen when you set aside a larger chunk of time to write. You become more emersed in your story the longer you write and will be able to dive deeper into the characters, the world, the story overall and write all of it better. Try it if you don't believe me.
7. Talk About Your Story
I hope that you have someone in your life that you trust enough to talk to about your story with. So many ideas fly through my mind when I’m conversing with another person about stories I’m writing. They throw ideas at you, you see if they fit your story, you throw ideas at them, back and forth. Set up a good brainstorming session or just start talking about your story over coffee! The results of a good conversation will be good.
8. Let Loose Your Creativity Through A Different Outlet
Try painting, sculpting, wood burning, something besides writing. Sometimes a part of your mind that was once hidden away comes out to play when you try a new creative outlet or do something creative that you haven’t done in a long time. It’s a great way to find inspiration for your stories and/or break through writers block. It is a form of meditation, I believe.
9. A Reminder Helps
Having something that inspires you and reminds you to write can help. I usually place my writing journal on the counter in my kitchen/living room since that is where the kids and I spend most of our time. I think about my story a lot more throughout the day and feel more motivated to write after the kids go to sleep at night when I do this.
10. Reward Yourself
When you write down your goals, write down rewards too! But when I say rewards, I mean rewards that will add positivity to your life. I’m not talking junk-food rewards, but something that will add happiness to your life in a meaningful way. Set up an appointment for a massage. Or maybe there’s a concert or comedy show you really want to see. Tell yourself that you can get the massage or tickets if you meet your goal. Rewards are a great way to motivate yourself to write!
11. Make A Game Out of It
4thewords.com immediately comes to mind. You defeat monsters by meeting different word count goals. Awesome. You can get creative too and make up challenges and games for yourself.
I talked about how I believe art is a form of meditation, so you could let out your creativity in a different way or actually do the real thing, (be still, but mindful). Meditation can help with writers block and also create a positive mindset. And a positive mind is much more likely to follow through on goals than a negative one! Sometimes all it takes is a short break from your story to find the answer to your question or know where it is you're going next.
13. Read A Lot and Read Everything
Not much to explain here! Don’t just read one genre. Read mysteries, fantasies, westerns, etc. Don’t just read books. Read the news, read scientific articles and magazines, read blogs and interviews, National Geographic. Anything and everything you can get your hands on. There’s no telling where your next idea will come from.
14. Create A Motivational Quote
Create one or borrow one. Print it off and put it on your fridge or somewhere you know you will see it every day. Print several off and hang them around the house. You're significant other will love that I'm sure ;)
15. Browse Through Artwork
I recommend the website deviantart.com. Anyone can post their artwork there and holy cow, is some of it amazing! If ever I am lacking imagination I will browse through the art on this site (any site with beautiful/strange artwork will work) and most times I find myself writing not even ten minutes later.
16. Go Outside
Get some fresh air and let nature take hold of you for a while. This may seem weird, but go to a quiet place outside and just listen. See what thoughts and ideas arise from the strange world around you.
17. Read Authors You Want to Mimic
I love this one. Have you ever read a book and found yourself writing in the same style as that author? I find myself doing this all the time, which does mess with my stories a bit sometimes. But if you want to write like one of your favorite authors then read a lot of books by them and don’t just read them, but analyze their writing style.
18. Explore Your Past Experiences
There was a point last month when I was writing a scene in my story where I suddenly stopped, reread what I had just written and immediately deleted all of it. The reason? It was total crap and I realized that I had experienced something similar to that, but hadn't thought of that experience as I was writing the scene. I rewrote it with that past experience in mind and it was much better. Think about your past experiences before writing a scene. Maybe you will find something in your past that is similar to what your character is about to experience in your story.
19. Be An Opportunist
Yes, set aside a specific time every day to write, but also write when the opportunity arises! If your kids just happen to take naps at the same time, write. If you just happen to get off of work early and don’t have plans for a few hours, write. You will finish your novel in no time if you take the time that is given to you and use it wisely.
20. Stay Positive
This is so important. I have been a pessimist most of my life, that is until I started wearing a rubber band around my wrist, snapping myself with it every single time I had a negative thought. Sounds too simple right? Well, that’s just how it started. After just one week I found that the way I thought was changing. I would catch myself and turn whatever negative thing I would have thought into a positive one. It’s amazing how something so simple can change you. Now, I listen to podcasts that bring a lot of positivity into my life, be it an awesome podcast on writing or others that have subjects I’m interested in. Yoga also helps. I wish I were more consistent with that, but I’m not. If you do it regularly though, it also brings sunshine into your life. I'm a big believer in a healthy, balanced life = writing success. Not sure if you can tell!
I thought that last one was a good suggestion to end on because writing itself will help keep you positive. If you keep at it, meeting those small goals to meet the big ones, it will make you a more positive person and I deeply believe that that in turn will keep you writing more consistently. I know that when I am doing what I know is good for me, I am a happier person and when I'm happy I want to write and feel more motivated to write.
I truly hope that you take some of these suggestions and thoughts with you through your day and really think about them and think about how they can help you succeed in your writing goals this year.
If you haven’t already, I challenge you to come up with a writing goal for yourself that you will have complete by the end of this year; a realistic one that is still challenging. It’s no fun if it’s not! I wish all of you the best year of your life. A happy, imaginative, goal-stompin’ year!