As the year comes to a close, now is the time to take some personal inventory and see what you were able to accomplish during the year. It’s also a great time to craft a writing plan for the new year. Maybe you want to rewrite something, maybe try a new genre or medium, or maybe you just need to finish that first draft.
Here are a few ways to come up with a concrete writing plan and stick to it.
Define Your Goals
Whether you want to write a new feature script, a pilot, a podcast, or a web series, the first step is defining the goals you want to accomplish. Once you define what you want to get done for the year, you can break it down into monthly or weekly goals. For example; if you write 10 pages a week at the end of 12 weeks you’ll have 120 pages. If your goal is to revise or rewrite, the same can apply. Commit to rewriting or revising at least 10 pages a week and you’ll have your rewrite done in about 12 weeks.
Create Manageable Goals
Think 10 pages a week is too much? No problem, try starting with 5 pages a week. Life can be unpredictable and there might be times when you end up writing beyond your goal. Go with the flow. There will also be times when you don’t get a chance to meet your goal. When that happens, the important thing is to be gentle with yourself and try again the next day. Sticking to any goals can be hard. Allow yourself to fail and try again.
Start Small If You Need To
If even 5 pages a week sounds like too much, set an even lower goal. Sitting down to write on a regular basis will help you make a habit of writing. Starting small also allows you to increase your pace slowly. Especially on good writing days. The more you push yourself, the more you can set a higher goal.
Competitions are wonderful motivators to keep any writer on track. I recommend doing research on the different competitions out there and deciding which ones you’d like to submit. Add those dates to your calendar to remind yourself of your personal finish lines.
Sign Up for a Writing Class
A class is a great motivator for any writer. The regular meetings, the assignments, and the peer support are all great ways to keep yourself writing. Not to mention that the financial commitment you made will also keep you on track.
Join a Writer’s Group
Writers’ groups often work similarly to classes. There will be established deadlines and regular meetings. You’ll get a chance to meet other writers and talk about the craft. Being with your peers is a great way to stay on track. Writing can be lonely, find your tribe.
Find an Accountability Partner
Your accountability partner can be your significant other, your parent, your neighbor, your clergy person — really, anybody who you trust and who is willing to help keep you writing. The role this person can take on is also up to you. I’ve heard of some writers writing a check to a friend and saying they can cash it if you don’t deliver your draft by a certain date. That’s by far, the most extreme way a person can request help from an accountability partner.
If the fear of losing money does not help you live your best writer life, you can ask for this person to simply check in with you weekly to see how you are doing. Trading scripts at the end of writing sprint for notes can also be a great motivator. A good accountability partner sometimes is also a writer in need of support.
Celebrate Every Win
Reward yourself every time you meet a goal. It doesn’t have to be anything big. A small treat. A cup of your favorite drink, a walk around the block, a movie. Maybe your reward is time away from the computer. Whatever makes you feel celebrated for your achievement, no matter how big or small, make sure to do it.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Creating worlds out of thin air is the closest we get to being children again and living in a world of make belief. Remember to connect with that primal, fun, and young side of you when you sit down to write. All the goals and minimum page counts and other rigid rules can sometimes get in the way of the creative.
Remember Why You Write
It’s easy to lose momentum once you hit a roadblock or have a setback. In times like that, remembering your personal reasons for writing will help you stay centered and keep going. At the end of the day, we write because we are writers and it’s what we do. We tell stories that are important to us. Remembering what’s important to you and why you chose to become a storyteller will help you even in your darkest hours.