It's a brand new year, and the rush to fulfill all of those New Year's resolutions has fallen upon us. No more diet sodas, start swapping your TV time for a quick run around the track, and for goodness sakes: START WRITING.
Don't worry, I'm only joking.
In all seriousness, the new year can present the seemingly terrifying realization that yes, you have to start writing again. Whether you're a professional author or a writer who spends their free time whiling away on their keyboard, building a thousand imaginary realms, achieving your writing goals can be a bit tricky. Here's how I do it every year. Maybe my tips can help you!
- Divide. Let's face it. It's a lot easier to face a massive goal if you have divided it into littler pieces. For example, if you want to eat a whole pie, you start with one slice, and then go from there - one slice at a time. (Unless it's a pie-eating contest, but that ruins my metaphor, so HUSH.) Every year, I decide how many books I want to write. For you it might be one book or fifteen. It doesn't matter. Slice your projected finishing dates for those books into units. March, June, and October. Set some deadlines for first drafts and second drafts.
- Stay motivated. Believe me, I know that it can be really hard to stay motivated to write. I keep that motivation by keeping two projects going at a time (at least!). If I'm bored of one manuscript, then I can switch to the other and give myself something new to work on. By extension, I never write on weekends. It's just a rule. I write Mondays through Fridays, and the weekends are the time to rest my creative brain. It keeps me fresh.
- Reward Yourself. I play a game with myself when it comes to cranking out 5-6 novels a year. I allow myself to stop and celebrate at the completion of each novel, whether it's a dinner date, a movie in IMAX or a trip to the zoo. Give yourself a fun reward. It's OKAY.
- Find Other Writers. I'm not saying that you need to go break the stereotype that writers are isolated hermits living solitary lives because WHO NEEDS PEOPLE, RIGHT? (I may be feeding that stereotype just a BIT...) You can still be the writerly type, because honestly, writing IS something you must do alone. But connecting with other writers and talking about your passion will encourage you to keep writing, too. Try joining NaNoWriMo or joining chats on Twitter.
- Keep Your Goals Realistic. It is now that I warn you: DO NOT BE LIKE ME. I am a full-time career author. I write 5-6 novels a year, which means I'm writing, editing and releasing a book just about every 2-3 months. If you are just starting out, I'm telling ya: start a little slower, or you will approach burnout, and no writer wants that. Make your goals realistic and hittable. YOU CAN DO IT. I write like a fiend because I AM a fiend, and because writing is as much a part of me as my beating heart. I cannot make the separation.
- Do Your Best. Here's the thing. Even if you're not a career author or aspiring J.K. Rowling: what you have written still matters. Writing is special, and even if you have penned only one sentence, you've done better than most. Writing is really hard, sometimes, but if you keep trying, you're already a winner. Keep at it. I believe in you!
I have always felt that the best writing in the world is the writing that is done from the heart of someone honest. In other words, don't conform to someone else's style. Be yourself, and let your emotions and thoughts pour onto the page. Pump that lifeblood into your story. Real emotion and real feelings make stories powerful - and it's what makes YOUR stories uniquely YOU.
Come on. Start writing!