Last night I did a presentation to the Infinite Monkeys Chapter of the League of Utah Writers on Setting and Keeping your Writing Goals. I love this group and I am a regular attendee. It was an honor to present there. The discussion afterwards and additional input from the members was great and I have already updated the presentation.
I started out the presentation by reading a portion of the article Why Writers are the Worst Procrastinators from The Atlantic. The gist of this article is that writers are more afraid to turn in something that’s bad more than nothing at all so they miss deadlines, whether real or self-imposed. Writers find any excuse to not write. It’s only when then we realize that it’s worse to meet the goal than not that we meet our goals.
I then discusses dreams, aspirations, priorities, resolutions, and goals. Don’t set the goal too high. It will never be reached. For example, if the goal is “Write a novel this year”, it will never be completed. That goal is too big. Break it down to smaller parts, “Write 10,000 words on my novel this month” or even something like, “Write 2500 words on my novel this week”. These goals make more sense and can be more easily accomplished.
But it doesn’t end there. Continually review the goals to determine if they make sense and to measure your progress. Say your aspiration is to write a novel during the year and your goal to do that is to write 2500 words per week. What happens if you can’t write that many? Either you have to adjust your life to meet the goal. Or change the goal and aspiration. Only by periodic review of the goal and your life can you succeed.
I also gave some tools to help you manage goals and even your time. The first is the Volt Planner. This is not a day planner but rather a goal planner. You make yearly goals then map then across months and finally weeks to complete them. The planner has weekly checkpoints where you review your progress.
The next tool is the Pomodoro Technique. Named for Pomodoro tomatoes, this time management tool has you work in 25 minute increments or sprints. At the end of the sprint you take a five minute break. After three sprints, you break for 15 minutes. If you get interrupted by something during the sprint, you start it over. There are more details to it then this, but I’ve found it effective in my daily non-writing job.
Chapter members recommended other tools to help. I haven’t looked into these yet, but want to get them here for reference:
A Different Kind of Writing Productivity – Blog post from Jamie Raintree.
Write Or Die – A website and/or app to help you write
2,000 to 10,000: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love – Book by Rachel Aaron
5,000 Words per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter – Book by Chris Fox
I will be working the next few months to meet my writing goals. Yes, months. Keeping a goal is not something you can complete in a day. In this case, it takes months of dedication to know you can do it. I also wish you success with keeping your writing goals.