We are about to enter into a new year, and as a writer, you may start to think about everything you want to accomplish in 2015. Do you want to write every day? Do you want to write more poetry? Would you like to try writing a screenplay, a play, or a novel? Do you want to submit your work to agents or publishers? These are a few examples of goals you might have in mind.
Here are a few tips that will help you to accomplish your writing goals this year:
1. Be clear about what your goals are.
What do you actually want to accomplish as a writer this year? You may want to take an index card and jot down your main goals for 2015 (i.e. “write a novel,” “complete NaNoWriMo,” “submit queries to at least 20 literary agents,” etc.). Put the index card somewhere you will see it every day – on your computer monitor or on a bulletin board or on your refrigerator. This will help you to keep your goals in mind.
It may also be helpful to break these goals down into smaller goals every month or even every week. At the beginning of a new month, I will often write down a more specific to-do list related to my writing goals.
2. Exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy foods.
You would be surprised how much living a healthy lifestyle can increase your productivity as a writer. When you get enough high-quality sleep, proper exercise, and valuable nutrients, your intellectual capacity, creativity, and efficiency will improve. Now, I’m not saying you should obsess over your weight or never eat chocolate ever again or cut out caffeine altogether, but it’s important to make sure that you are living a healthy lifestyle overall.
3. Find a schedule and working style that best suits you.
Sometimes I am more productive when I focus on one project at a time whereas other times, I am more productive when I float around from one project to the next as my mood allows. Sometimes I am a better morning writing person and other times, I work better at night. For me, a variation in style and schedule really works. For others, though, it may be more beneficial to stick to a routine and write every morning, for example. Experiment with different writing routines and working styles, different writing environments, and different writing tools and equipment to find the working style and schedule that is the most beneficial for you.
4. Establish a system to help you avoid distractions.
Speaking from experience, having my Twitter and Facebook open, trying to keep up two or three text message conversations, and listening to whatever TV show is on in the background are three ways to insure I don’t get much writing done. Maybe you are the kind of person who can just close out your internet browser and put your phone on silent. Or you might be the kind of person who has to install apps like StayFocusd to block some websites after a specific amount of time. Or you might be the kind of person who has to unplug the internet and turn your phone off completely. Whatever it is, find a way to avoid distractions during the time you have allotted yourself to write.
5. Find ways to try new things and improve your craft.
There are no shortage of resources available to you. Read writing blogs online (like this one!) or go to your library and check out writing craft books. Join a writing group online or in person. Attend writing conferences or workshops. Participate in challenges like The 30-Day Poetry Challenge or NaNoWriMo (or even my own 30-Day Writing Challenge). Learn from other writers, and challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and stretch your writing muscles.
6. During your allotted writing time, just write!
This may seem pretty obvious. One thing I learned during NaNoWriMo, though, was that it is so much more productive to keep writing and edit later. Keep this in mind. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good (yet!). But it does have to be written in order for you to do anything with it. Stop making excuses and just do the work! The number one way to be a better and more productive writer is to WRITE.
Happy New Year, and happy writing! May you achieve all of your goals!