It’s another new year and another time for new writing resolutions. As a steady writer, you’ve already accomplished something other writers haven’t: writing on a consistent basis. This can be a daily writing schedule, writing heavy on specific days and lighter on others, or whatever gets the words down the same times over a week or month. You aren’t trying to achieve a writing normal: you’ve already got it. So what can you use as a new writing goal to push yourself to the next writing level?
Here are four writing resolutions to help you take your consistent writing to the next level during the new year.
Improve an element of your writing
Improving the quality of our writing is a never-ending quest, but it’s one we work on a little bit at a time. Do you struggle with natural dialogue or action scenes? Do you struggle with the third person omniscient point of view? Take something you struggle with and work on it. Write it. Read how other writers employ that writing tool. Copy it. Change it. See how it works in a movie vs a poem vs a journalism article. Experiment. Live and breathe it. Write it some more. By the end of the year of focusing on one or two elements of writing, you’ll have taken another important step in the writer’s never-ending quest. What better goal is there in writing than to improve your actual quality of writing?
Cut out time wasters during writing sessions
When you sit down to write, do you spend 15-20 minutes rereading the last chapter or surfing the web to get ideas flowing? Sure, you write every day, but not all of your time is being used for writing. Try to cut down wasted time so that you are the most productive during your writing time.
Here’s a few ideas to help you remove wasted writing time:
- When you finish a writing session, write a short paragraph (or even a small bulleted list) of what you wanted to write next. This allows you to jump right back in without having to skim long sections of writing to jolt your writing mojo.
- While completing the tasks (making coffee, getting dressed, cleaning, making lunch, workouts, walking pets, distracting children, etc.) right before your designated writing time, ponder your writing and your plot. Think about the characters and what they’re struggling with, what decisions they’re about to make, what trials they’re about to face. Thinking about your WIP as you prepare physically to write will prepare you for actually writing so you don’t need to have these thoughts while you’re sitting at the keyboard and staring at your screen during your writing time.
- Minimalize your writing distractions. Spend 5 minutes decluttering your writing space so that you can focus on the screen, or spend a few minutes completing the dishes or whatever task that is nagging at you. Tip: keep the time spent on that cleaning or decluttering short. If you spend half an hour, you’ll cut significantly into your writing time. The trick is to spend 5 minutes keeping whatever bothers you from bothering you for 15 minutes or longer while you’re trying to write. Set a timer so you can jump back into writing.
Lengthen your writing sessions
You’re already accomplished consistent writing–now it’s time to lengthen those writing sessions. Even an extra 15 minutes of writing every session will make a difference. If this means waking up 15 minutes earlier to write before work or pushing yourself an extra 15 minutes at night when you want to quit, then push yourself and give it a try. It’s only 15 minutes, and you’ve already proven yourself that you can carve out time in the day for writing. Once you’ve got that down, you can try pushing yourself even longer. Start small and expand. More writing time isn’t a bad thing, and you’ve already created a foundation of consistent writing to build upon.
Add another writing session to your day or week
You can’t always lengthen your writing sessions, especially if you write during your work lunch break. Your boss won’t appreciate you taking an extra 15 minutes for lunch every day because you want more writing time. If this is the case, consider adding a second writing session to your day, even if the second writing session is only 15 or 20 minutes long. You can devote that writing session to something else, like editing or outlining, or you can continue writing your current WIP. Either way, a second writing session is a great way to sneak in a few extra words every day and be even more productive over the course of a week, month, and year.
Not every consistent writer writes every day. Your writing times may focus on specific days of the week. Maybe you only write on the weekends, or maybe weekends are too busy with family obligations so you write heavily on weekdays and less on weekends, or skip weekends altogether. If when you write depends on what day of the week it is, consider adding at least one more writing session a week to your schedule. Turn writing four days a week into five days a week, or five days into six days a week. You may need to be creative on how you fit in the extra writing session, but the additional words and progress will be worth it.
The sky’s the limit once you have a consistent writing habit down for new writing resolutions. Improve your writing time, improve your actual writing, write even more. Now that you’re writing, you can tailor your goals to how you write and what you write. You’ve already taken step one: actually writing.
Happy New Year and good luck writing!
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