I think goals are important for a writer. But they can’t be too big. You can’t sit down to work on a chapter with the goal of “Get Published.” It needs to be broken down into something smaller, manageable, achievable. Finish this scene. Write 100 words. Plan this chapter from start to finish.
The time has come for me to change my writing goals. After I finished my first novel, I wrote to lots of agents and publishers and took everything one step at a time. Then, one day, I was holding a copy of my own book in my hands. But it didn’t stop there, of course. As I grew older, got a “proper job” (writing is not my job, unfortunately), moved to my own house and gained different responsibilities, my writing methods had to change. So a couple of years ago I set myself a goal of writing for at least 10 hours every week. I made a log of how long I wrote for each day, which was motivational in itself. Most weeks, I either hit or surpassed the target, rarely ever lagging behind. This continued on for over a year. Breaking it down into this goal of writing on average little more than an hour a half a day (minimum) was manageable – I usually felt good because I usually achieved it.
The, for one reason or another, I stopped. I didn’t have a goal, and before I knew it almost another year had passed, and I had barely written anything. So that was when I set myself a new task – to start this blog, the tagline of which is “Notes on writing, reading, inspiration and motivation.” I wanted to create something that would motivate me, and hopefully others, into persevering and continuing to do what they love. I know that sounds strange – if you love to write, surely you don’t need anything external to motivate you. Well yes, that is true. But when the thing you love is as complex and as easy at the same time as writing is, there are lots of other factors that go along with it. Factors that don’t always act separately from the core of your work.
The order of those four words in the tagline is no accident.
- Talking about writing techniques (your own and those of others) can help me understand it better
- Reading. What writer doesn’t love to read? If you don’t, I think you’re doing something wrong. The posts I write about books and influential authors tell me its ok to allocate time for reading as well as for writing. Both are pleasures, neither are chores
- Understanding the roots of inspiration (as much as it is possible to, at least) helps me to grasp it before it disappears. Often it can be nothing more than a tiny spark in a jumbled sea, which can slip away all too easily
- Motivation comes from all of these things. Knowing more about processes, understanding your own personal tastes, methods, likes and dislikes can help push that spark of an idea forward. The words will maybe, hopefully, flow better. When the words flow, it makes you want to continue
It has taken a while to get to this point, but that’s ok. Writing this blog has become an established part of my life – I really like doing it, and I have learned a lot. I have learned that there are so many people out there just like me, with the same hopes, problems and desires. I have learned that the reasons I have just outlined for starting this blog are not only valid, they are actually much bigger and more relevant that I ever thought they were when I first created it. I have learned that there are valuable resources out there for writers, whether you write for pleasure or with the ultimate aim to become published, if you just take the time to look. Hopefully A Writers Notebook is now one of them.
So, what next? I think I’m going to go back to an old goal, which is to write for at least ten hours a week, and perhaps up it to fifteen if all goes well. One important thing to remember about goals is to evaluate them, and change them if you need to, or if they don’t work as they are. Break big ones down into small ones. I will need to sit down with a diary and work out when my best times for writing till be – things have changed a lot since I did this last. I can barely believe it myself, but I actually used to get up and leave for work early and sit in the car park outside, writing in my notebook for 45 minutes before going in. That isn’t really possible anymore; not every day at least. Now, due to other commitments, every writing day will probably be slightly different from the last. It doesn’t really matter how I do it. It’s the goal that counts.
Do you have any writing goals? How do you make sure you achieve them?