Guest post by Claerie Kavanaugh
Aspiring to be a writer is one thing, but actually being one is entirely another. For some people, calling themselves a “real writer” means they are published and may or may not have made money off of their work. That does make them a published writer, but the first step to being a “real writer” is, well, writing. Writing though, is yet another commitment we each have to make among the countless ones that compile into our daily routines: work, school, kids, friends, family… It’s a lot to balance, and to add the extra feat of writing on top of it all might seem impossible. If you really want to call yourself a writer though, you have to make time to pursue your passion.
Here are my top tips for setting realistic writing goals:
Get Organized: Organization can mean different things for different people. For me, it means setting aside a day or a time where I’m determined to work on certain projects. If you’re working on a big project, such as a book, getting organized might mean making an outline on note cards. If you’re a pantser, or someone who likes to write without much planning, then maybe you simply schedule yourself a block of time each day, or week, or month to devote to your latest ideas. Whatever you do, make a commitment, because it’s the only way anything will get accomplished.
Break it Up: Whenever I start a big project, I tend to look at the whole thing all at once, and that just makes me hesitant to start at all because I can’t see how it’s possible to finish something so massive. Don’t look at the big picture, or at the finished product. Yes, the image of holding a book in your hands is a good self-motivator in the long run, but start with biting off small pieces. If you finished chapter one today, or even just section one of your outline, then you’ve accomplished something. Giving yourself credit for the smaller things will help the overall goal seem a lot less daunting.
Slow Down: To piggyback off of my last point, try your best to only focus on one or two tasks at a time. For example, tell yourself that all you have to write today is the last portion of chapter one or the first 1,000 words of chapter 2. That way, you’ll be able to give your best effort to those goals, rather than worrying about the other ten chapters that come afterward.
Be Realistic: Some people think you’re only a real writer if you do it every single day. I used to subscribe to this belief, but I don’t anymore, simply because…life happens. Just because you’re pursuing your dream of being a writer, it doesn’t mean your other responsibilities vanish. If there are things that need more attention for a week, or a month, or six months, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. As long as you eventually find time to go back to doing what you love, every single word you type is one step closer to your final goal of being published.
Claerie Kavanaugh graduated with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Technical and Professional Communications. She has been writing seriously since the age of 16, publishes weekly writing and editing advice on her blog, and has been published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine. She’s a former editorial assistant at Owl Hollow Press and grammatical editing intern with Pen Name Publishing. Claerie is also a sensitivity reader and has read for several authors contracted with big name publishers such as Bloomsbury and HarperCollins.