I subscribe to Susan Dennard’s newsletter and it is always full of useful hints for writers. I’m a bit behind on her newsletters though and was just reading the one from October 30. It had great tips on how to keep your writing goals and I thought I would share Susan’s thoughts here.
Her suggestion is really simple and makes me wonder why I never thought of it myself:
I’m talking, this goal is as easy as brushing your teeth. It doesn’t scare you off, so instead of hemming and hawing away from it, you actually just do it.
Like, even on a day when the world goes to hell, you can STILL meet this goal.’
Maybe it’s writing a single paragraph every morning right after you wake up.
Maybe it’s using the first five minutes of every lunch break to scribble down as much as you can–from new words to new ideas to revised pages.
Maybe it’s typing 100 words on your phone right before you go to bed.
Whatever it is, it’s so easy you can’t resist.
So what’s my writing goal? Well, I used to shoot for a minimum of 1000 words a day, but it turns out I don’t always have something to write. Some days, I really just need to brainstorm or rewrite an old scene. Then I would get really frustrated with myself for not writing 1000 words, and I’d end up typing nonsense just to meet the goal.
Those words would then ultimately get cut, so it was a waste of my time.
These days, I shoot for at least 2 45-minute sessions of what I call “mindful focus” throughout the day. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing new words or revising old ones, as long as I have my full attention on the project at hand (no interruptions allowed!) for 2 rounds of 45-minutes, then it meets my goal.
Many days, I’ll do >2 rounds of “mindful focus,”but even on a REALLY CRAPPY DAY or a day bogged down with Other Stuff, I can still hit my 2 sessions of 45-minutes easy-peasy.
Keep a notebook in your lunchbox (or somewhere easily “stumbled upon” during lunch.) or perhaps beside your toothbrush.
Whatever you do, make your unintimidating goal easier to do than to avoid, and eventually the goal will melt into part of your daily routine — just like my morning jog. Just like my 2 sessions of mindful focus. I do them naturally every day now, and I can’t imagine a day without them.’