Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Setting Goals to Get Your Book Finished

Rebecca Mikkelson, Editor-in-Chief Authors 4 Authors Publishing

I know how it can be hard to get your book done. You’ve got work, you have a family and/or pets that need your attention, you have to take care of the daily chores, and then, by the time that’s all done, you’re too pooped out to want to write. So how are you going to get your book finished by the time you want to? Setting goals and sticking to them, that’s how.

Going Too Big

One of the biggest downfalls of writers that I see is they put too much pressure on themselves to get their writing (or editing) done in a super short amount of time, but it turns out that it isn’t a realistic goal for them. 

There are some people who easily do NaNoWriMo every year and manage to write a full-fledged novel every single year, but if you struggle with those types of goals, recognize that you aren’t one of them. And that’s okay—not everyone is. I’m certainly not, and I’ve come to terms with that.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Another part of goal setting is when you don’t make your goals, don’t beat yourself up. It’s not going to make continuing on with your goals any easier; it will actually make it harder. 

We are how we talk about ourselves—if you fail to make a goal and you say something along the lines of, “this is never going to get done, I can’t write as much as X can,” or “this is never going to get done, I can’t write more than a page,” then you’re not going to make any progress.

Beating yourself is going to put a block in your confidence and ability to put words on the page. Don’t ever let anyone—including yourself!—discourage you from achieving your writing goals. 

Setting Achievable Goals

When you want to set goals for your writing, you need to make sure that they’re achievable. This means being honest with yourself and examining just how much time you actually have in your daily and weekly routines to make sure you can carve out time for writing. 

Put a number to it

There are a couple of different types of goals that you can make for your writing, one of them being a numerical number. So this could be writing three days a week, once a week, or even a specific number of words per day. The word count goal for each of your writing sessions can easily start to get out of hand, so make sure that you’re setting up goals that you can achieve. Someone you see on Twitter might say that they write 4K words a day—that works for them. Give it a try for yourself and see if you can, and if you can’t, set a smaller goal. Maybe it’s 1K a day, or even 500 words a day.

Put a time to it

Putting a time on your writing could mean a couple of different things. You could say you’re writing at 5:00 AM every day, no matter what, or if you’re a night owl, you could tell your family, “This is my writing time, don’t disturb me from 9:00–10:00 PM.”

What I like to do when I’m writing is to do it in bursts, or sprints as most people call it. If I put a very constrained amount of time, I don’t have time to pussyfoot around and worry about whether or not I’m putting down crappy words (which is one of my blocks for writing).

Make It a Habit

One of the most important things you can do in any goal-making process is to hold yourself accountable. Without any accountability, what’s the point of even making goals?

It takes about three months to make something a habit, which might surprise you. So the longer than you take keep putting it off in, the longer it’s going to take you to reach the end of your book. 

Reward Yourself

Lastly, when you’re holding yourself accountable, remember to reward yourself for keeping to your goals. This could be anything from watching your favorite show once you’ve finished your writing, or putting a dollop of whipped cream in your coffee. Find something that you’d be sad if you missed it to keep you motivated to stick to your writing goals. 

We hope this has been helpful to get started on your writing goals and sticking to them. Join us next week for our latest installment in our Misused Advice series where we talk about not using be verbs.

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