2015 was a big year for me. I started rewriting the novel series I’ve been working on for 8 years, and my partner and I bought our first house together. 2016 looks to be an even bigger year, with the publication of my first novel! Yep, you read right. That’s my writing goal for 2016. I’ve told Boyfriend, I’ve told Nan, and now I’ve told you. There’s no going back now.
In the meantime, though, I want to help you work towards reaching your writing goals for 2016! There’s 366 days in this year, and it only takes a minute of those to change your life.
So where should you start?
Decide on What Your Goal is
I know, I know. Stating the obvious. But it’s important to make sure that you have a clear idea of what your goal is. Saying ‘I’m going to write a book’, is vague and lacks direction. There are so many different things you can write a book about! Will it be fiction or non-fiction? Who are you writing it for? Are you going to complete a first draft, or finish polishing it? Do you want it to be of a publishable quality in that time?
The minimum word count for a novel is generally seen as 50,000 words. At 1,000 words a day (this is always what I aim for when writing a first draft), that’s a first draft done in 50 days. But that’s the easy part.
Then there’s the editing.
That’s what takes up so much time.
My main goal for 2016 is to self-publish What Happens in New York this year. My secondary goal is to get its sequel very close to finished. I’m not going to say finished though, because my main focus will continue to be What Happens in New York. If I finish book 2, that’ll be an added bonus, but I don’t want to split my focus too much. The narrower your focus, the easier it is to achieve your goal.
If you’re already a productive writer, think about ways you can really push yourself to improve and become even more productive this year. If you’re not, how can you improve your productivity? What’s holding you back?
Break it Down
What do you need to do to achieve your writing goal?
For mine, I need to finish editing my book; complete the cover design; market; decide which platforms I want to publish it on, and choose a date.
Breaking your goal down into smaller chunks makes it seem more attainable and less intimidating.
Beware of Time Sucks
Without Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have half the friends I do or be in a relationship with Boyfriend. However, it is a huge, HUGE time suck. And that’s what you’ve got to be careful of. Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, the Internet in general…they’re all great for killing time, but they also kill your productivity. What do you actually achieve when sat on Facebook all day? Using its chat function can be good for keeping in touch with people, but those hours you spend scrolling through people’s passive-aggressive statuses could be spent better elsewhere. Like writing.
Next time you’re doing something, ask yourself what you get out of it: do you enjoy it? Are you learning something from it? Is it helping you to relax? If none of the above, why are you wasting your time on it?
This is something I’ve always been uncomfortable doing. However, if you tell someone else what you plan to achieve, there’s someone to hold you accountable for when you veer off course. Meeting up with one or two supportive friends or colleagues periodically also allows you (and them) to keep track of your progress.
Get a Change of Scenery
I didn’t realise just how much of a difference this can make until I was listening to Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness podcast this morning. I’ve always said how important it is to read over your work on a different platform, in a different place, but thinking back, my productivity levels went through the roof when we moved house.
There were so many negative thoughts and emotions for me — particularly around writing — in our old flat, that I found it difficult to concentrate. There were lots of distractions too. It was a small space, VERY close to town, with the TV, games consoles, internet, kitchen and just about everything I needed super close together.
Then we moved.
And we had no TV, and no internet, for over a week.
I had to do something with my time, so I decided to start working on What Happens in New York. Not having asinine distractions encouraged me to do something productive with my time, and since then, I’ve spent far more time on Scrivener than I have watching TV (my biggest downfall).
Realising how productive not having TV was spurred me on, and even though I still fall prey to new episodes of Castle and Rizzoli and Isles, I manage to get a lot more done when I get home from work than I ever have.
- Pick your goal
- Break it down into easy-to-digest chunks
- Beware of time sucks
- Get a change of scenery
- Tell someone — have an accountability buddy
What are your writing goals for 2016, and how do you plan to achieve them? I’d love to hear what you’re going to be up to!