How to Achieve Your Writing Goals in 2021
It’s 2021, which means 2020 is finally behind us! I don’t know about you, but I have some exciting writing goals I’m ready to tackle this year. I’m motivated, have all my journals ready to go, and I’ve even organized all of my pens by color. Now I can sit at my computer and write my rough draft of the book I’ve been dreaming about for years.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that when so much is out of our control, there are still things we can control (like writing!). Here are my best tips on how to take control of your writing and persevere as you work towards your writing goals.
1. Know your “Why.”
When I was in elementary school, I participated in a writing program called “Young Authors.” Students received blank hard-cover books, and we could fill the pages with a story and illustrations. Young Authors was my favorite part of the school year. Some of my stories were about playing tennis, or adventures with my Bichon Frise, Cuddles. But all of my books from 1st through 6th grade had something in common: they were stories that I wanted to read, but couldn’t find on the shelves of my library or local bookstore. As I drafted my first novel last year, I kept that same goal in mind: it’s the story I want to read, but can’t find on the shelves. Yet. This is my “Why.”
Your “Why” is the reason you keep showing up each day, even when you don’t want to. What made you want to be a writer? Was it an empowering childhood experience, like mine? Think about what inspired you to begin writing, and why you are still writing today. Whatever your “Why” is, write it down, put it in a place where you’ll see it often–like on your computer, in a notebook, or on your mirror–and look at it everyday. One thing we can control is our thoughts. Figure out your “Why,” make it visible, and use it to help you keep going.
2. Keep showing up.
Recently, I learned that discipline and routine are the keys to crushing those writing goals. If writing is important to you, make it a priority and work it into your daily schedule. One way to do this is by scheduling time to write. We schedule workout classes and coffee dates with friends, so why not schedule writing time? Setting small, attainable goals for your writing time, as well as a reward system, can also help you keep going. You can set word count goals (I’m going to write 1,000 words today), revising goals (I’m going to focus on imagery and descriptions in my opening chapter), or editing goals (I’m going to correct sentences with passive voice). When you hit those goals during your writing time, give yourself a reward! Celebrate hitting your mini-goals with your favorite snack, or going for a walk while listening to a new audiobook.
3. Find accountability.
It’s easy to slack off on our goals when we aren’t working towards them with others, or when no one else knows about them. It’s scary to tell others what you’re writing, but it can be scarier to go through the process alone. Your family and friends are a great place to start for accountability partners, but it’s important to have accountability partners who are working towards similar goals. Find a writing group in your community or online, or connect with other Scribblers on social media. Check out the Scribblers group on Facebook for some of the best accountability partners out there! Tell the people (and your pets! Animals are great secret keepers!) you trust the most about your writing, and let them hype you up and encourage you towards success!
4. Step outside your comfort zone.
Sometimes when we get stuck, we need to shake up our routine. Have you been writing first thing in the morning? Try writing in the evening. Take on a challenge like NaNoWriMo. Enter a writing contest. Use writing prompts that push you to write in a different style or genre. You’ll learn something new about yourself as a writer, and enhance your perspective on writing. These small steps outside your comfort zone can ignite a spark to motivate you to work on your WIP.
5. Learn from the experts.
Along with stepping outside your comfort zone, finding writing “mentors” or valuable resources can help you keep moving towards the finish line. This is an awesome way to stay in control of your actions, and your personal growth as a writer! Start by reading books by your favorite authors. Currently, I love anything by Jason Reynolds and Karen M. McManus (I’m a middle school teacher, so a lot of my reading is in the middle grade/YA realm). I also love Austin Kleon’s book Keep Going, and the Scribbler Passports.
6. Find balance.
When writing gets tough, one thing that helps me is not writing. It’s okay to watch Schitt’s Creek. Again. You can bake the banana bread. You should do your laundry. When I step away to do something else productive or relaxing, that’s when inspiration strikes, and I’m excited to get my new ideas on the page! After I finish that episode of The Office, of course.
We can’t control everything, but we can control our thoughts and actions. That’s what writing is: thinking of ideas, and getting them down on paper. When you’re working towards your goals this year, or any time at all, focus on what you can control, and shake off what you can’t. Before you know it, you will achieve your goals, and be ready to set even bigger ones!