The new year is just a few weeks away, which makes it the perfect time to get your writing life in order for next year! Of course, there’s no bad time to decide to prioritize your writing, but the new year gives us a blank slate and a clear start date to take advantage of. So if you’ve gotten off track, or if you’re just looking to revamp your writing life, now’s the time to start planning!
Here are six tips to help you rock your writing life in the upcoming year!
1) Focus on building a habit
As exciting as it is to envision reaching your goal, making that your main focus may be one of the quickest ways to deter you. When all you can see is the end result, it’s easy to get overly ambitious and attempt to do too much too fast. And once that happens, writers can also get overwhelmed, discouraged, and decide to call it quits. If you instead put your focus on building a regular writing habit, chipping away at your goal will become manageable, sustainable, and hopefully enjoyable!
2) Be realistic about your goals
I’ve said it before on this blog, but it’s always true! It can be easy to lose sight of reality when you’re planning. Or, at least it is for me. I get excited when I make plans–too excited. I see all the possibilities and the fact that I’m sitting down to make a plan is a sign to me that I’m serious about my goals. And that seriousness alone can get the best of me. It makes me want to push myself as much as possible in order to meet my goals as soon as I can. But when that happens, I burn out. We all have our limits. Yours will probably be different from mine, but they’re there. Set goals that challenge you, but be realistic. You won’t meet your goals if you burn out. For more tips on setting manageable writing goals, check out this post.
3) Be realistic about your time
Just like you have to be realistic about what you can reasonably accomplish, you also have to be realistic about how much time you have available to you. Be honest with yourself and plan reasonable goals accordingly. If you want to write a thousand words a day, but can only write for fifteen minutes a day, it’s going to be hard to meet your daily goal. And it will also be easy to get discouraged if you consistently fail to meet the goals you created for yourself. It’s okay if you can only write fifteen minutes a day. You may want more time–and down the line, you might be able to find some–but if all you have is fifteen, you’re better off acknowledging that and planning for that, then trying to work with time you don’t have.
4) Don’t plan too far ahead
If you’ve never planned an entire writing year before, it might be better to try to plan on making a regular writing commitment than a concrete plan. You should absolutely set goals and checkpoints for yourself, but if you create a rigid plan for the whole year, you might be setting yourself up for a setback. Sometimes your work has its own ideas. Sometimes you think you know your story is going then you’re reminded that your writing has a mind of its own.
Odds are at some point this year, your project won’t go as planned. You’re going to need to regroup and adjust your plans and goals and all of this is a lot easier to do if you haven’t planned too far ahead. My advice is to make set a goal for the year, and maybe even monthly checkpoints that would help you meet your goals, but only create a serious plan (i.e. what draft and chapter you’ll be working on each day) one month at a time.
5) Consider investing in your writing
If you’re going to get serious about writing this year, that also means trying to be the best writer you can be. Make it a point to beef up your craft book collection, take a writing class, or consider enrolling in a writing program. And yes, all of these things cost money, but if you start planning and investigating options now, you might be able to save up for a writing class in the fall or end up with a solid book collection by the end of the year. For classes and writing programs, check out your local colleges, community centers, and libraries. For craft books, you can do an internet search or check out the resources page of this site!
6) Go into the year knowing what you’re going to write
Start planning what you’re going to write now! Whether you do a concrete brainstorm or you simply start thinking about your next story, it’ll be a lot easier to build or change your writing habits if you’re truly excited about what you’re working on. So start thinking about your project now, so that when January comes, you’re ready to dive in!
As always, I hope this helps!
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Now it’s your turn: How do you prep your writing year? Has anything you’ve done in the past been particularly helpful? Tell me about it in the comments!