If you’re anything like me the New Year is a time for
reflection, beating yourself up over not reaching your goals, and/or doing as much writing as you hoped.
And sometimes when faced with this kind of frustration its easy to just sit down and repeat the process, planning to finally finish that novel, write 6 bazilliion words and this time I won’t let pesky life/children/work/headspace get in my way (insert whichever life factor tends to interrupt your writing). Instead it may be worth considering some of the points below.
Don’t pressurize your holidays
I have a tendency to procrastinate, and one of the little lies I tell myself is that I’ll do all that writing in the weekend or upcoming holiday. Which sounds very plausible, but ultimately is pretty flawed. Holidays are a time to recharge and relax. Now, writing as a hobby can be recharging and relaxing but for many of us its a pass-time that requires a fair whack of mental hard work, its not just jamming around on the page.
My point is that overstocking a holiday with writing plans is a sure path to some sort of backfire, most likely in the form of adding stress to your holiday plans and eventually frustrations that you don’t get as much done as you hoped and repeating the cycle of recriminations for next break.
Obviously holidays may be a really good time to write and many do, however its also important to realize that while work is often a major time-suck away from writing, holidays do not mean a magic portal is going to open and fill you with motivation, energy and good writing habits, which brings me to my next thought.
Aim for Habits not Benchmarks
Really this is just advice for me, but I’m wondering if its helpful for others. Something strange about writing is on the one hand you can set all sorts of relatively objective goals for yourself, whether its word counts, novels, stories. On the flipside however I see regular communications from people who have done all of those things and promptly burnt out without the achievement they really wanted (e.g. publishing or recognition) its kind of depressing but as a hobby writing is one where you can produce screes of material and still achieve little.
What I’ve noticed however is those writer friends who are finding success beyond large amounts of draft material is good regular habits. They are the people who sit down every day and do something. That’s not to say the habit has to be daily, but just regular enough that the writer keeps moving forward steadily. While the progress might seem gradual compared to someone who blitzes out a novel in a month, it tends to be sustainable.
(This is the point where I confess I have tried both methods of goal setting and have mixed outcomes for both – oh well some people are beyond help)
I think ultimately being a good writer is also being a good reflector, you’re going to do much better if you know yourself well and what goals will work. But whatever you do don’t make goals out of guilt or frustration think about what you want to get done through your writing and set yourself up to get there – (also practice what you preach, Thomas)
Happy New Year everyone!