Judging by the huge response to this month's contest, there are a lot of you who've committed yourselves to writing this year. That's great. But writing down a goal doesn't guarantee you'll reach it. I know. I have a goal that's haunted me since 1982. Back then, at age 20, I decided I wanted to have my first novel published by the time I reached 40. I figured that if I had to turn the big "4-0," it might hurt a little less if I'd attained my childhood goal of becoming a novelist.
This goal has eluded me for the past 17 years. As my self-imposed deadline creeps ever closer, I've increased my commitment to my goal. With the passing of each year, I've learned that wanting to be a novelist is not enough. Dreaming alone won't make it happen.
Some wise person once said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." I like plans. Plans magically turn free time into productive time. If your goal is to do more writing this year than last, better get yourself a plan. Don't leave what's so very important to you up to chance.
Start by creating an environment that's conducive to writing. Even if your creative space amounts to little more than one end of the dining room table, make it yours. Stack up some books to create a natural barrier between you and a thousand distractions. Personalize your space. Surround yourself with the things that get you writing.
Select a time management system and record every ten minutes you spend writing or doing writing-related activities (research, including market research; reading; etc.). Six ten-minute increments add up to an hour's worth of work. Whether you use a bona fide Day-Timer or a computerized calendar, keep track of the time you spend working on your writing. Recording your efforts increases your sense of accomplishment.
Set yourself at least one tangible writing goal. It's not enough to say, "I'm going to write more this year." Identify a project and give yourself a deadline. If you've been mulling over a story idea for the last few months, give that story a title and start writing.
Finally, hold yourself accountable. Find someone who understands your need, your desire, to write and tell that person your goal. Don't know of such a person? I do. Go to Coffeehouse4writers.com. Click on the "Motivation" link. There, you'll find several different ways to build accountability into your daily writing practice. You may want to go one step further and join a critique group. Coffeehouse has those, too.
Do yourself a favor and take the three steps outlined above today. Set a goal. Write a plan. Make a writer friend. Don't plan to fail. I don't, and neither should you.