This year could be your year.
The year that you finish that manuscript, get your agent, and land the coveted book contract. You have visions of movie options, book tours, and making money off your blog dancing in your head. All by the end of 2016. What a great New Year’s resolution. Those are grand and glorious writing goals. But they are entirely unrealistic if you don’t have an action plan.
Here are five steps to setting realistic writing goals for 2016:
1. Crunch the Numbers
I know. You are a writer and writers don’t like math. But this will really help if you let it. Sit down with a piece of paper and write down answers to the following questions:
- How often do you want to blog every week?
- How many words or chapters do you want to have finished by the end of every month?
- Is there a set number of books that you want to write by the end of the year?
Writing these numbers down will help you set realistic writing goals. You can’t hit targets that are shrouded by haze. Have them in black and white. Keep the numbers where you can see them. Just having them in front of you will do great things for you. Also, tools like My Book Progress will help you track these numbers as the year moves on (more on this later).
2. Look at Your Schedule
Are you spending more time writing or writing about writing? If the answer is the latter, there’s something wrong. As a contracted author, you need to focus more writing time on your manuscripts than on your blog. That means you need to find a way to post regularly to your blog without sacrificing your manuscript.
If you are using your blog to get published, focus your creative juices on your blog. Being a great author is more than writing, though. You aren’t a machine that can sit in the dark and churn out best-sellers. You need to have time for relationships and life.
On your calendar, block out sections of time for your writing. Maybe you want to cluster your blog post writing time on the weekends so you have time to work on your novel during the week. Find what works for you and put it on the calendar.
3. Identify Your Commitments
What writing commitments do you have? Are there deadlines you have to meet? Do you remember your deadlines right after they pass you by?
Every month, I know that I have four columns that must get out to different publications. Those are commitments I made a long time ago that have to be met. In addition to that, I have my own blog, book reviews, and manuscript to work on. At work, I blog almost every day. That’s a lot of writing and, like everyone else, I can get overwhelmed. If I don’t want things to slip through the cracks (which they have done before), I have to put them on the calendar and make them a priority. My columns come before my blog. No one will want to read what I have to say if I don’t have integrity and keep my commitments. That’s the bottom line.
4. Set Up an Editorial Calendar
Get on Google Calendar and create a specific one for your writing goals. Put your commitments in first. Remember, these are the things that have to be done before you get to write your own content. By syncing Google Calendar to your smartphone, you’ll get reminders on the go that you need to sit down and write.
The next step is to write down all your blog titles for the next month. Make sure you aren’t making one of the top 5 blog title mistakes that authors make. Give yourself an hour or so of brainstorming time. Then schedule the publishing dates of these posts. If you are really organized, you can do the same for your book, either by word count, scene, or chapter. Again, find what works for you and commit to it. This will keep you on track to hit your goals. It won’t always be easy but it will be worth it.
You can have the best intentions in the world but intentions don’t mean anything without the actions to back them up. Now that you’ve created goals, priorities, and calendars, the only thing left to do is sit down and write. This is the hardest step. But those words aren’t going to spill out on the page by themselves.
So sit down and write.
6. Add MyBookProgress to Your Website
Each year, millions of authors resolve to write more, only to end the year disappointed in how much they’ve written. Don’t let this happen to you.
A few months ago we created a WordPress plugin to help authors:
- Track and show writing progress on their website (let your readers hold you accountable!)
- Grow an email list of future readers
- Hit Deadlines
- Receive nudges of encouragement from readers
MyBookProgress was inspired by behavior science. It is scientifically designed to help you stay motivated as you work on your book.