In the amorphous, potentially unstructured existence of a writer, it can be easy to fetter away precious writing time with distractions around the house, catching up on our favorite literary agents’ tweets, researching story tidbits, getting our slippers on just right, you name it. Before you know it, writing time vanishes and it’s time to interact with humanity, do chores, earn a paycheck, whatever.
Enter: goal-setting. Setting goals, and rewarding myself when I achieve them, has made me a much more productive writer. Goal-setting certainly isn’t a new idea — tons of prolific authors do it. Crime thriller novelist Elmore Leonard wouldn’t allow himself a cup of morning coffee until he’d put in an hour of writing. That’s dedication. ::sip::
Having a prioritized list of writing goals on hand really helps keep you focused. Some examples from my writing to-do list include:
[ ] write next two chapters of WIP
[ ] spend 30 minutes outlining next book
[ ] edit new draft of short story
Along the way, as you accomplish your writing goals, it’s important to reward yourself. This, I think, is the part a lot of people overlook. Here are some examples of rewards I give myself. I’m always on the lookout for new ones, so if you’ve got good suggestions for rewards that cost little to no money, please post in the comments.
- green pens – I don’t really have writing superstitions or inclinations other than this: I love editing in green ink.
- small notebooks for jotting down story ideas where cell phones aren’t convenient or allowed.
- online subscriptions to sites like Duotrope and QueryTracker
- allowing myself to spend time on social media, blogs, author sites, etc.
I hope this helps you in some way. Happy writing!