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).

Goals:

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.

Goals, Goals:

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!).

In Sum:

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.

Published by Rita

I like to write things.

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4 Comments

  1. This actually helped a lot for me. To know I’m on the right path. I’ve been setting even smaller goals because I’ve ben REALLY stuck. So a goal to simply write just ONE paragraph. I loop-edit a lot. If I pull up my WIP and I simply can’t find the motivation, at least I did some editing. I’m interested in beta reading. Could you tell me a bit more about that? Thanks for all your insight – this post gives me hope!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great!! I think managing expectations (of ourselves) is really important so that we don’t get mired in disappointment. Writers are artists and seem to be prone to the ups and downs of the creative depressive, so I think implementing smaller goals improves motivation and productivity while allowing us to give ourselves a break. If you feel too tired or too burnt out to write, that’s perfectly fine.
      Engaging a beta reader is having a neutral third party read your edited but unpublished manuscript. They are normally someone with knowledge about storytelling (plot, pacing, character development, genre norms, grammar, etc) and preferable have read a LOT of books. Some are writers too (like me) but others aren’t, and some think a beta reader shouldn’t be a writer (because they think writers might insert their own stylistic preferences without respecting yours). Having beta readers read and give you a their thoughts on all these important items is CRITICAL to putting together the best version of your story that you can. You don’t need to take all the advice you get, but it can help you see problems and fix them before you start querying agents (if going the traditional publishing route) or before you self-publish.
      I’ve found beta readers irl and also from twitter threads, but the Overhaul My Novel beta program is an excellent way to get your manuscript into the hands of an experienced reader. It’s free so submissions open at certain times of the month only, and responses are in a specified format: a detailed essay discussing the points I listed (where applicable).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Goals are great but I always say that they have to be attainable. If a goal is too daunting, it can kill motivation. Writing a book is a large undertaking, even for pros. So you have to write one line at a time just like everybody else. However, meeting small goals every day can definitely provide tons of motivation. I don’t usually have word counts or anything. I write until I feel like I’ve accomplished enough for the day but I do make progress every single day. I think that’s what it’s all about. Just keep on going and leave perfection behind. If I feel like when I write, I’m just telling somebody a story about something that happened to me, it’s much easier and the pressure is off. Of course, when editing time comes around, it can be challenging but at least I already have a lot to work with. Anyway, great post! Looking forward to many more!

    Liked by 1 person

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