7 Sure Ways to Keep You on Track for Your Writing Resolutions
This is your year to get discovered!
It’s finally 2017. A brand new year with endless opportunity waiting to take up your time. This is the year that you win that screenplay competition. The year that you get a literary agent. This is the year you make the best seller’s list. This is the year that your screenplay gets sold to Hollywood for millions. I’m not saying all of this to be facetious. I’m saying this because you can achieve all of those things and more. It all depends on you and how you treat this year.
So how exactly do you make it 365 days without breaking your writing resolutions? How can you turn your habits into a successful blueprint? Well it’s a lot easier than you think and here’s how you do it.
Create a timeline. It’s one thing to say that you want to write an amazing book or change the face of Hollywood with your script; but it’s entirely different thing to say I want this done by (insert date). When I wrote my first book, I said I wanted it to be published spring of 2016. Spring of 2016 turned into summer of 2016. And summer of 2016 slowly crept into the fall. Because I didn’t have a timeline, my whole plan was pushed back. That included marketing, entering my manuscript in to contests, and ended up costing me more money than I anticipated. Have dates set up from beginning to end with major milestones and small goals in-between. Once you have your timeline concrete, your vision becomes more of a reality with each passing day.
Be realistic. Now that we have a timeline of when we want things to get done, we have to start filling in the dates with goals. Here’s where a lot of new writers get ambitious because they feel like they can take on the world. Why do most people fail at their resolutions? Because they set the bar so high that they can’t even see where to start. Some examples of realistic goals would be: writing 10,000 words in a month, querying 10 agents a week, spending 5 hours a week for social media and posting one article a week on your blog. Getting into these smaller habits can mold you to perform when it’s time to tackle you bigger goals.
Write Everything Down. This should be the easiest thing to do since we all are indeed writers. How many times have you come up with an amazing idea, pace back and forth while building on said amazing idea, and thought, “this is the greatest I’ve ever come up with” only to carry on with your day and forget everything in the next few hours? This has happened to me so many times that I literally want to shoot myself in the foot. Writing everything down not only helps you remember everything; it also acts as what I like to call your “Guilt Advisor”.
As soon as you plan on doing something that doesn’t contribute to your resolution, you can look at what you wrote down and it speaks to you. “Remember you said you were going to do this by next week?” “Do you want to be a failure to your family and friends forever?” Ok, it doesn’t have to be so harsh but it does have to be effective.
This could be the most fun out of the list. I do this with myself all the time and it actually works wonders. Sometimes I say, “Ok, if you finish this scene you can go have dinner.” Obviously it doesn’t have to be so extreme and if I’m being completely honest then nothing is going to stop me from eating. NOTHING.
But there’s something about completing a task and rewarding yourself that makes the reward that much sweeter. It’s like eating ice cream after a long run. Not the best example if you want to lose weight this year also, but it still feels good. Be very careful with this tactic. It is so easy to be your own oppressor and fall for the traps. A basic scenario would be: “You know what, I did half of what I said I was going to do so I’ll just take half a candy bar.” You see how counterproductive that is? Sooner or later you’ll be treating yourself just for waking up. Finish the task and enjoy your reward.
Receive Help. Being a writer can be a solo sport. We usually need peace and quiet and lock ourselves in a secluded area so we can get our ideas out the way we want them. But history has shown us time and time again that NO ONE does anything alone. Getting support not only helps you attack your goals head on, but it also takes you to the next level even if you believe that you can’t. Network with people in your niche, find beta readers, and ask questions to people who have done what you’re trying to do. Be sure to get real, constructive advice though. We can be blinded by compliments from our family and friends which is nice, but we need a more concise guidance to push up in the right direction.
Be Your Own Boss.
A lot a writers don’t see themselves as bosses because they’re so focused on the creative aspect of their craft. But the fact of the matter is, we are in control of what goes on in our careers. We are in control of setting our goals. And we are in control of the actions needed to complete those goals. Now, more than ever, we are in control of how far we can go. We can’t blame the catch 22 system that is querying agents and managers.
Don’t blame the people who don’t want to network with you so we can get a foot in the door. We can’t blame the market or our readers. We have to take full responsibility of our future. Now that can be a little intimidating at first, but trust me, your career is better in your hands than someone who just sees an opportunity. Do your research on the business and marketing side. It’s only fun if you know what you’re doing.
Don’t Give Up.
This kind of goes without saying, but statistics would suggest that this is a bigger problem than people realize. According to Forbes.com, only 8% of people will meet their New Year’s resolutions. According to jerryjenkins.com, 9 out 10 writers give up on their dream before it can become a reality. And that’s the hardest pill to swallow ladies and gentlemen. The fact that 90% of you who are reading this will most likely give up on your dream is alarming to say the least. There will be times when you question your purpose. Times when giving up seems like the more logically approach. Times when you feel like everyone is against your creative genius. Trust me, I’ve been there and on the brink of giving up. But the genuine writer inside me wouldn’t allow it and neither should yours.
There’s a difference in doing something because you love it and doing something because it’s ingrained in your DNA and there’s nothing else in the world you’d rather do. As writers, we don’t quit. We don’t become another statistic. We don’t make excuses. Writers endure and prepare for whatever roadblock, snag, or hiccup that might come along the way (And there will be plenty of them). Be proud of the achievements that you did conquer and don’t beat yourself up if you do miss a deadline or something doesn’t go all the way as planned. This is your literary journey. The bumps and bruises you get will be good for war stories that you tell the novice writers that look to you for guidance.
Now that you’ve read these tips, you are primed to take on the New Year with your writing goals. It takes hard work, but the time and effort is well worth it. Let’s start the New Year right! Good luck to you all on your literary journey and don’t forget to subscribe below the comments.
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.