With another year down, and another one starting, how many of us are ticking off the things that we didn’t complete for 2018? I went into the year expecting to finish the first draft of my current WIP, and then got hammered by all manner of distractions, challenges, and interruptions, and got nowhere near where I wanted to be.
I need to add to this, though, that a significant portion of that time was actually spent doing what I should have done at the very beginning.
Most of us – but especially anyone who follows K.M. Weiland’s exceptional blog on the craft of writing – would understand that there are two kinds of writers: Pantsers and Outliners (Pantsers and Plotters?). For a very long time, I’ve been a Pantser: unsuccessfully so.
So, after reading Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel, I sat down and I actually plotted the story out, and found the dozens of holes that were sitting there gaping through what I’d already written. Not only that, but I had also found the means to get from where I was, 60k+ words into a story, to a resolution that had previously looked impossibly far away.
I had a roadmap!
Enough, however, of my justifications and excuses for not getting things done last year, it’s a new year, and it’s time to focus on how I’m going to be better this time around!
So, in light of a commitment (or recommitment) to finish the draft this year, I’ve been sitting down and working out how to make sure that happens, and I came up with a few revelations:
I Have More Time Than I Give Myself Credit For
That’s not to say there are endless hours in a day, but there’s actually a lot of time that I lose in just not being productive enough. By the time you look at the time spent mindlessly scrolling through Social Media, or watching Netflix, or staring into the fridge waiting for something worth eating to magically appear, there’s actually a lot of time wasted.
And I’m becoming more aware of this since getting my newest phone late last year. It now shames me by sending a notification as to how much screen time I’ve had over the past week!
Automated Screen Shaming!
So, I’m working on just decreasing those hours – not cutting them out altogether, I still enjoy social media, not to mention it’s part of my job as a freelance content creator, but it’s time to just cut back a little – like quitting smoking, it’s easier to cut back than it is to just go cold turkey.
I Don’t Have To Write That Much
If I sit down and get focused, and I get on a roll with my writing, I can easily write 1000 words in a sitting, and on a really good day, that can jump up as high as 5000 words or more. Many years ago, I wrote Christmas Miracle in a single afternoon by hand – that story is over 6000 words, so I know that I can do this.
I think a problem with this, though, has been that because I can do it, I feel like I should do it. You know, people write 1667 words a day throughout November for NaNoWriMo, so why can’t I do that for the whole year?
So I actually sat down and thought about it. As a fantasy writer, my expectation of the length of my novel is a bit higher than the usual 60-75k, and I’m aiming at closer to the 90-120k range, especially when you take into account the fact that you’re telling multiple character arcs within a larger main plot. It sounds like a gargantuan task.
Until I broke it down and looked at it.
120k words – the upper echelon of the target – can be achieved in a single year at only 300 words per day. This article is already over 600 words and I’ve been at it for about 45 minutes, including distractions such as refilling my coffee cup and double-checking that I was correct in placing a question mark inside the parentheses and a full stop after earlier.
So between the fact that I don’t have a huge volume of words to achieve on a step-by-step basis, as well as the fact that on a good day, it’s quite easy to blow past that target without really trying, I realised I don’t necessarily need to feel anywhere near the pressure I had been putting on myself to actually get it done.
I just need to…
Write Every Day
It’s every single writer’s mantra, and probably the vast majority of writers’ biggest challenge, to write something every day.
And it can be difficult, especially when your job actually has you writing most of the day anyway, it can be hard to get to the end of the day and feel creatively energised enough to actually sit down and write some more. It’s so much easier to make dinner, sit down and turn on the television, and then suddenly realise that it’s time for bed because you’ve watched half a season of Fuller House.
But if I’m going to be serious about this – and I am – I need to make sure that the effort is there. That’s one of the reasons that I came up with the idea of implementing Writing Prompt Wednesday – to refresh the creative passion by writing something that’s solely just for fun and enjoyment without any pressure, stress or demand behind it.
In adding this to the understanding that I really only need to write a few hundred words a day, it suddenly makes things seem that much easier for the year ahead.
So therefore, with an understanding of how much time I really do have available to me, how little I actually need to do to achieve my writing goals for 2019, and implementing a few tactics to keep the passion and motivation in play, I’m feeling confident about actually making some significant progress this year.
Hopefully these ideas can help you, too, in planning your 2019 and reaching your writing goals. As writers, we need to stick together so let me know what you’re doing to reach your goals for this year!