I started this blog last November to help motivate me to write my second novel, which I’d just started.
Spending some time chronicling my journey and getting my fingers on the keyboard when my #WIP wasn’t speaking to me DID help motivate me, but more importantly, it connected me to a community of writers. I talked about finding your people in a previous post, and in my opinion it’s critical if you want to give this writing thing a real go.
Back in November, I had a story idea, a main character, and about 5,000 words written. The idea of getting to 80 or 90,000 words was daunting, and I didn’t have that beginner’s luck/blind exuberance I’d had while writing my first book. The first time around I thought getting published/rich and famous as an author would be easy (insert maniacal laughter).
I learned that my goal can’t just be “finish your first draft”. That’s a stupid goal. Instead, I had to break everything down into digestible chunks, like: write 500 words at least 5 days a week, and spend time loop-editing if I’m having writer’s block. (Loop-editing is when you go back and read/edit what you’ve written so far to kickstart your creativity. It’s a great method for getting unstuck).
Joining an accountability writing challenge helped ensure I didn’t cheat on my goals, because I had to post about my progress. Getting encouragement on public posts helps to reinforce behaviour, too.
Once I started setting goals, attaining them got addicting. I wanted more positive reinforcement and validation from myself and my peers. Setting another daily goal to do at least half an hour of beta reading for another writer was easy once I’d created the habit of sitting down to do my own writing.
Beta reading is a fabulous way to hone writing and editing skills while giving back time and encouragement to new friends in the writing community. In my opinion every writer should beta read regularly, and should take advantage of offers to beta read his or her or their work. Check out Overhaul My Novel if you’re looking for an experienced beta reader.
Setting and following my goals enabled me to: finish drafting my #WIP in six months (it’s now being read by my trusted first readers), get some fantastic insight about revising my first book (from beta readers), beta read 5 manuscripts for 5 brand new writer friends from the writing community, continue my good habits by starting a new #WIP (I’m 3000 words in and have lots of ideas!).
Goals are meant to help you, not make you feel helpless. If you’re hitting roadblocks on some project you’re working on, maybe you need to look at what goals you’ve set and whether they’re small enough to give you regular reinforcement and validation so that you continue working.
Attaining goals in small chunks will give you motivation that leads to new goal setting and even higher productivity.