This is a guest post by Lisa Sullivan
Happy 2016, fellow writers! A new year brings new writing goals and ambitious plans to achieve them. To help you along, here are some goal setting and time management tips for creating and achieving your 2016 writing and time management goals.
1. Eliminate distractions.
- If you sit down to write, then write. Do not use writing time to check social media, websites, email, text messages, Angry Birds, etc. Do not let mindsucks, timewasters, and energy drains tempt you away from your writing. Set clear boundaries with people and pets to let them know that writing time is writing time.
2. Separate writing tasks.
- Multi-tasking (switch-tasking) is proven to be unproductive, so focus on one writing task at a time. Schedule prioritized time for brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, proofing, planning, promotion, research, business/admin, etc. Draft, revise, edit, and proof when you are freshest. Promote on social media at peak times to maximize return.
3. Organize your space.
- Make your workspace work for you by having all you need right at your fingertips: laptop, paper/pen, coffee, passwords, etc. Make your workspace comfortable so that you love working in it and can totally escape to it to plunge gleefully into your writing tasks. Leverage your VAK style (visual, aural, or kinesthetic) to create an uber-productive, energy-freeing work environment.
4. Empty your mind so you can focus on writing.
- When something besides writing is on your mind, it clouds your productivity. Deal with it then get back to writing, even if it takes days, weeks, or months to resolve. Journal about it, talk it out, or workout to clear your mind for a more productive writing session. Similarly, take frequent breaks – the mind focuses best in 20-minute chunks.
5. Set goals that are not just achievable but motivational.
- Goal setting is not the same as goal achievement, and goal achievement (in my lexicon) is not the same as goal accomplishment. Goal achievement, in a nutshell, means you visualize where you want to end up then plan and strive to complete incremental tasks to get you there. To stay on the path of completion, you must believe you can achieve, make a reasonable plan, and commit. Goal achievement is the logical conclusion to the milestones you have completed on a prescribed path. Goal accomplishment, on the other hand, is emotional and thus more powerfully motivating. What pleasurable, emotional feeling will you get as a result of completing your writing exercises? Holding your book in your hands? Getting accolades, awards, or royalties for your work? Connecting with your readers? Leaving a legacy? Starting a new career path? Doing something you’ve always wanted to do? Finishing something you started a long time ago? Overcoming barriers or fears? Dispersing your message to the masses? Making yourself/your mom/your spouse/your kids proud? Whatever that emotion is for you, pinpoint it and hold fast to it because it will best lead you to goal accomplishment (in contrast to goal achievement). Emotional motivation is a much more forceful predictor that you will reach the end of that long, lonely writing path than setting word count goals and deadlines will be. The bottom line is, you know you can do it, so ask yourself why don’t you or why will you?
6. Associate with supporters.
- Beware! Some people in your writing circles wear masks of amity, but their face underneath is one of enmity. To them, getting published and selling books is primarily a competition, and YOU are their rival. …Ditch those people! They do not want to help you achieve your goals at all. Associate with those who are genuinely supportive of seeing you achieve your writing goals, and help or thank them profusely in return.
7. Strike while the iron is hot.
- Does a great idea strike you while bathing or driving along the highway? When, without warning, the next scene of your WIP starts to fill your mind, stop what you are doing (if you can) and capture it – and keep going with the moment until your imagination iron cools. You never know: that brilliant idea may never strike again or in the same way later. There’s no reason to wait for a scheduled writing time to make great progress. (Just ask Bob Dylan.) Write it down, type it up, or leave yourself a voice mail message right then and there. So what if you are the one who looks like you are talking to yourself in the car but, unbeknownst to all, you are recording voice memos on your smartphone about a new scene idea or character brainstorms? If it helps you reach your writing goals, then do it.
8. Take care of yourself.
- Be well rested, healthily fed, and free of stress to be the most productive writer you can be.
9. Deal with Writer’s Block.
- Either plow through it (i.e., keep writing) or give your mind a break – the words WILL flow again. On the other hand, are you truly suffering from Writer’s Block? Maybe you are procrastinating. In that case, read my book for more tips on how to overcome procrastination.
10. Stay dedicated.
- (But not to this degree!) Producing a quality written work is an incremental process that takes patience, a good spirit, and favorable conditions to produce. So, give yourself every advantage for success! (As for publication, that is a whole other post entirely!)
Lisa A. Sullivan is an award-winning trainer and recipient of the American Society for Training and Development West Virginia Chapter’s Workplace Learning Professional of the Year and the Federal Executive Association of the Eastern Panhandle’s Manager of the Year Award. She is also owner of publishing house LASBooks, the author of the Time Management Workbook, a blog, and four other books. Her fiction work has finaled five times in different contests over the years.
Join her free Time Management Workshop at the Hedgesville Library in Hedgesville, West Virginia, Saturday, January 30, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LASBooksWV.