Five Things: Keeping Your Writing Resolutions
We all know how it is. Giddy on the promise of a brand new year, you convince yourself that you will finally write that novel, travel the world and put money into your savings. But within a couple of weeks, nothing's been done and you start to despair. Rather than crumble under the pressure a mere two weeks into January, here are some sensibile tips to help you achieve one of those resolutions in 2014.
1. Set an achievable routine with overall goals
The worst thing you could do is rush into writing without having a plan in place. That said, routine is very important, but don’t be too hard on yourself either. Previously, I’ve wasted a lot of valuable writing time setting ridiculous targets then getting annoyed when inevitably I don’t achieve them. Don’t fall into this trap. It's not unreasonable to set daily targets, but think carefully about the ‘when, where and what.’ When is the best time for you to write? Your ‘where’ options might be limited, but you will have a preference. Some people need perfect silence while others prefer writing in a bustling café. ‘What’ depends entirely on your overall goals. Is there a half-finished manuscript gathering dust or is the story still inside your head? Either way, plan how you’re going to take this forward. Be realistic and enjoy the nice surprise on the days when you end up writing more than intended.
2. Get your kit ready
Make sure you’ve got everything to hand before you sit down to write. A fully charged laptop (connected or disconnected to the internet, depending on how easily distracted you are), plenty of pens and paper, a glass of water and so on. It’s an obvious point, but if you’ve got everything set out in an easily accessible fashion, you’ll approach your desk with a much clearer head. Plus, you won’t have an excuse to delay your writing while you search for that important lucky pen.
3. Find out what works for you (and ignore everyone else)
Be happy for those around you who are successful or able to get out of bed and write for hours before dawn has broken, but don’t feel like a failure if your routines or achievements don’t quite match up. Use their example to inspire you rather than make you feel jealous, stressed or inadequate. Focus on what’s important to you and think of the sense of achievement you’ll feel once you reach your goals.
4. Give NaNoWriMo a go
Often, schemes such as NaNoWriMo can give you the target and structure you need. It may seem a bit bonkers trying to write 50,000 words in the space of a month, but it gives you a dedicated time to focus on writing, emphasising quantity over quality. You can also add fellow writers as ‘writing buddies’ and you’ll receive regular motivational emails to keep you going. Even if you don’t reach the final word count, you can still write an impressive amount of words in a short space of time. You never know, your NaNo project might even end up being published one day!
5. Tell someone about your aims
If you have someone to answer to, I guarantee you’ll be much more likely to write. Work this into your routine as conveniently as possible, such as meeting up somewhere close by to discuss your work or creating a Facebook group to post in. And most importantly, be honest! If you find yourself flagging, your writing confidant may be able to give you some helpful and encouraging advice from their own experience.
Above all, enjoy your writing and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem right now.