Goals and Writing

Public Domain image. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/46958463@N06/8553343931/

It’s New Years Day, and my social media feeds are full of people announcing their resolutions, or rejecting the notion of resolutions, and writers announcing their accomplishments last year, and their aims for this year. I’m sympathetic to the resolution rejectors, but aware that goals are in the air.

I have goals, including writing ones, but I hesitate to put deadlines on them, and say it must be done this year, or by the time I’m sixty. There is no need – why put myself under pressure? And I enjoy the process of writing. That said, Romance One was started in the fall of 2012, and I would like to finish it. I’ve taken several steps to help me achieve that goal, the most recent being joining the Romance Writers of America. My thinking is that acting like a professional writer helps me become a professional writer.

One of the challenges of writing a novel is that it takes a long time to finish, and even longer to make sales or hear from readers. This is particularly true for a first novel, or at least it is in my case, as I am learning how to write one as I go. I believe, perhaps naively, that once you have a novel or two completed, you are able to plot and write more efficiently. Meanwhile, it’s a challenge to write day after day (or, ahem, days here and there) without seeing results. I have a couple of strategies that are helping me overcome this, and I’m sharing them for the benefit of anyone else who struggles to write when it seems a Sisyphean task.

First, have partners for accountability and to share the small victories. I used to have a regular weekly writing session with another writer. This obligated me to schedule the time, show up, and write. An online service called Focusmate lets you arrange this with strangers. I’ve signed up, but not tried it yet. According to their Facebook page, some find it very useful, but there can be problems with no shows and the odd creepy user.

I belong to a Facebook group where writers announce they are going to write for an hour, then share their results. Once I commit to writing for an hour, I can look forward to a couple of likes and words of encouragement, and I try to give the same. There are organizations such as NaNoWriMo and the 85K Writing Challenge. The latter has regular word count discussions, and lets you post for accountability partners to arrange writing sessions. IRL writing clubs may also provide this support.

Second, although it seems counter-productive, spend time on shorter creative tasks – writing, or otherwise. I write a little poetry. It takes me between an hour and a week to finish a poem, but that reminds me that I can actually finish a writing project. These blog entries, which usually take a few hours, are another example. Any likes or feedback I get are a bonus.

I also take pictures. The process is not unlike writing. I have a few themes and styles I prefer, I try to evoke a particular sentiment, and I usually spend more time editing the photo than taking it. I post the best to a couple of Facebook groups, and get my likes within hours. And there’s another bonus – going out for a picture-taking walk is exercise.

Whatever your goals are, good luck in achieving them, and hopefully the process is enjoyable. If you are writing, acting like a professional, working and celebrating small steps with accountability partners, and finishing and sharing other creative projects is helpful for me, and may be helpful for you. Happy New Year, whether or not you have resolutions.

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