Writing Tip Wednesday: How To Keep Your Writing Goals.

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:

She says, ‘I have to set an unintimidating goal, and I have to give that goal the path of least resistance.
So, what is an unintimidating goal (aside from a word that my spellcheck insists isn’t real)? It’s a goal that is SO EASY you can’t not hit it.

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.’

I tend to put unrealistic and intimidating goals on my writing, so this suggestion was like a breath of fresh air, like permission not to be so hard on myself. I had been putting too many unrealistic goals on my writing last year it made me sick, so this year setting unintimidating goals sounds just like the thing for me.
She gives a few examples:
‘What’s a writing goal that is SO EASY, you can’t make an excuse to avoid it?

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.

There’s one more important component that goes into the unintimidating goal, and that is that your goal must fall along a path of least resistance.
You need to eliminate ALL excuses to avoid doing this sucker…
put writing utensils beside your alarm, so as soon as you’re awake, your fingers hit your pen and paper.

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.’

For me, my unintimidating goal would be to write/edit/plot for one hour a day.
What about you? Do you have a daily writing goal? Is it working out, or do you need to do something less intimidating?

6 thoughts on “Writing Tip Wednesday: How To Keep Your Writing Goals.

  1. Great advice! Recently I’ve found that I get a lot more done if my daily word goal is a bit lower. For example, if I set a goal of 250 words a day, I’m more likely to do it. If I set a higher goal, I might feel overwhelmed/intimidated by it, and then I won’t write at all. So in the long run, I tend to write more if I’m willing to do it in baby steps. 🙂

  2. I really love this advice Susan Dennard is BRILLIANT. I’m not really a goal-setting when it comes to writing, personally… because that just doesn’t work for me. Instead, each year, I’m just aiming to be a BETTER writer. 🙂

  3. That IS such a good goal! I kind of tend to work as a “binge writer” though?? I’m not sure if it’s the best method but it’s the only way that really works for me. hehe. XD I work in huge chunks and then take a month or so off. But I would like to stop expecting myself to do SO MUCH and just work on doing a few things really well. 😉

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