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What You Need to Know In Order to Take Massive Action Towards Your Writing Goals to Achieve the Success That You Desire This Year
By William Ballard
Sometimes, as a writer, it’s difficult to think about large, overarching goals when you’re working on a project or planning to start on something new. Thinking, “I’m going to write a novel and have it completed by XX date,” is ambitious. But maybe it’s too much of a reach.
Instead, develop a plan. Write sections of your fiction book or non-fiction book that you find more interesting than others. Challenge yourself, but make your goals and expectations reasonable and attainable, this makes the practice of writing that much more rewarding.
Consider this scenario:
“So, what do you do?” asks the fellow dad at the soccer match, glancing over at you while he keeps an eye on his daughter, the star forward.
“I’m a writer,” you announce proudly.
“That’s fascinating! Anything I would recognize?” he asks, while you both cheer a save by your team’s goalie.
“Not yet,” you admit.
“I haven’t had much luck yet in getting published.” There is a pause while he makes a sympathetic-sounding cluck.
“Actually, I haven’t been writing much lately at all,” you continue. “Being home with the kids takes so much of my energy that by the time they’re in bed at the end of the day all I want to do is watch television. Plus, writing is so discouraging when you can’t get someone to even look at your work.”
A moment passes while he processes this. “But, you’re a writer, right? How can you be a writer without actually writing?”
This scenario may cause you to chuckle because you can relate very quickly or possibly to hang your head in shame.
Real writers write!
Successful writers find the time every day to strengthen their craft and meet their writing obligations—whether those obligations are external (from editors) or internal (from an unmeasurable desire to write). What usually separates good writers from bad ones (and often, published writers from unpublished ones) is a strong work habit. That’s it! That’s the big secret. Real writers work hard. In fact, most work ridiculously hard.
Professional writers know there’s nothing like a dreadful deadline to make them focus on their work. In fact, the real problem for newbie writers is usually not scrambling to meet a deadline, but simply managing their time efficiently enough to find time to write at a productive pace. All writers feel this way from time to time. As other obligations begin to creep in on our days, writing is often pushed aside like an unpleasant chore.
In order to take massive action towards your writing goals requires crafting up a writing plan, which is a specific time schedule that lists what you need to do and when.
Writing is a Choice (How Will You Decide?)
Fact: Everybody on the planet has the same amount of time every day. How we choose to use that time makes some of us writers and others of us, wanna be writers. If you are a newbie writer who really wants to write I would recommend taking a bit of time to think about how you use your time.
Sandra Felton, who has written more than a dozen books on how to get organized, points to prioritizing and dedication as helpful organizational tools for writers. “I think the whole answer is focus,” she says. “I think what focus means is you have to decide what you want to do and lob off other stuff that you also want to do. Because you want to write more.”
Understand that the choice is not between writing and doing something else that you don’t want to do. The choice is among a nearly overwhelming array of things that seem appealing: checking in with your friends on Facebook, reading for pleasure, or having people over for dinner. Then there’s going to movies and the theater and the opera and family get-togethers and on trips and watching way too much television.
Sometimes people would even rather do laundry and dishes than write. Of course, that couldn't be you. (All writers have days like that, but if that’s what you constantly resort to, you may wish to rethink pursuing this vocation.)
Faced with so many options, people tend to choose too many and feel like they’re short on time.
Some people actually can use small chunks of free time to write, penning novels on the back of envelopes while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. If they have ten minutes between helping a child with homework and driving her to piano lessons, they use those ten precious minutes to write or polish a small snippet of prose. Such people are the envy of the rest of us. For the rest of us, writing for publication requires larger pieces of time to research, dream and imagine, draft, rewrite, and polish.
Writing is a Habit Just as Exercise is a Habit
Finding writing time requires excellent management and organizational skills, but using it productively demands dedication.
The theme of virtually every article about getting organized to write is straightforward: Just do it.
Wanting to write and writing itself are cousins, not identical twins. Psychological research indicates that writing every day produces not only more writing but also more ideas for future writing.
The writing habit, like the exercise habit, is its own reward. When you don’t do it, you feel as if you’re cheating yourself. Real writers don’t sit around and wait for inspiration to strike before they put fingers to keyboard; they put fingers to keyboard and know that somewhere during those hours they will discover small nuggets of inspiration.
The fingers-to-keyboard, butt-in-the-chair dedication is like exercise for the writer. In a way, this is just like real runners who pound the pavement in all kinds of weather, whether they are busy with work or on vacation. Like physical exercise, writing is often not enjoyable while you’re doing it, though occasionally an endorphin or two will spark and the serotonin does its thing.
Most of the time, though, writing is just a matter of discipline, plain and simple. Discipline comes more easily to some people than to others, but it is certainly a skill that can be cultivated and nurtured.
“The only thing I can tell you I do that’s inviolate is when I have to write, I get up in the morning and literally go straight to the typewriter,” says Stephanie Culp, who has written books on organization and time management. “Any little distraction that takes me away from my desk kills it. When I’m writing something large, it takes about three fitful days, and then I’m in the rhythm of it, and I write it. I can still write a book in three weeks.”
Here are some tips for getting into a writing habit:
The Writer's Massive Action Writing Plan
Often, getting started on a writing project is the hardest part. Most writing jobs, however, can be viewed as a sequence of doable tasks that follow the same general path from beginning to end. If you accomplish each task in order, you can follow the plan to a finished piece. The more you write, the more you will be able to anticipate how much time a particular project will take you.
The planning guidelines below help you break your book project into smaller tasks. Start with individual chapters, and break down the chapters into integral parts. Schedule your writing project into your day at specific times, and, with a little passion but more hard work and dedication, you’ll finish your masterpieces on time.
If you’re a person who resents and resists scheduling, remember that creating a massive action writing plan is intended to help you, not restrict you. The goal is to relieve some stress, organize your life, and make your writing process more efficient. Meeting even mini deadlines can lift your spirits and skyrocket your confidence. Simply crossing items off to-do lists feels so good that the act in itself becomes a reward and keeps you writing.
Take a look at the following guidelines, which will help you better organize your writing time and, in turn, finish your projects.
Next to each item on your list, write the time you think it will take to accomplish it and the deadline for completing it. People commonly put far too many items on their to-do list and, as a result, feel defeated when they have to copy uncompleted items from day to day. As William James once wrote, “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” So jot down what you can reasonably expect to accomplish in a day.
Some people have success using online organizational websites to help them stay on track. For example, on www.Toodledo.com, users can create goals for themselves, color code them, assign themselves deadlines, prioritize the tasks in a “hotlist,” and keep track of the time spent on each project. There are other similar sites as well, including many that are compatible with tablets and smart phones. (Of course, the old-fashioned system of a pen and a sticky note works fine, too.)
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About William Ballard
Freelance Writer, Copywriter, Blogger, Inbound Marketing Specialist, and Author, William Ballard, helps small businesses and entrepreneurs, like you, broadcast their message across the Internet (and offline through direct mail response) and be seen as experts in their field. He has been dubbed the Expert Marketer of Writing.
William, a writer and blogger since 2007, enjoys sharing with others his experience on how to become a successful writer, blogger, and author. View more about William Ballard →