With the new year being only a few hours away, now is the perfect time to set your writing goals for 2014. Because not everyone has the same ideas of what they want out of their writing these goals will obviously not be the same for everyone. Maybe this is the year you will finish your novel. Maybe this year you are going to published your book of short stories, or if you are a freelance writer maybe 2014 is the year you are determined to get published in more places. Whatever your goals are, write them down and make a plan on how to get there. Without doing that it is too easy to lose focus of them, especially if you are new to writing.
For those of you who are new writers, here are some habits I think will help you.
1. Write everyday, but you can take one day a week off if you need. If you are not doing this already start right away. It is no secret that as a writer you need to write, but how often do we get busy with life and tell ourselves we don't have time? Find the time. Make it a priority. Write each day because you need to develop that pattern of behavior in your writing career. Become familiar with the term "scheduled writing time." Take a time frame during the day where you will be able to write and make a note of it. Put in on your calendar, e-mail yourself a reminder, or schedule it in your smartphone. It doesn't matter how you do it, but make sure to get it done. If you don't schedule your writing time each day, you probably won't write each day.
2. Set a word goal for each day. Right now, mine is 750 words a day, six days a week, at a minimum. That is probably a goal that is realistic for newer writer's who have jobs, school, and those other pesky things that get in the way of our writing time. In 2013 I joined a website called 750words.com which helped me get in the habit of meeting that goal. For some of you the goal might be more words or less, but whatever it is make sure it is something that is going to challenge you, but is not unrealistic. It might take some trial and error to find out what that is.
3. Cut out the distractions when writing. Do you write with the football game on? Do you get interrupted by your cell phone when you are in the middle of your story? I recommend you turn off the TV and the cell phone when writing because distractions hurt your ability to finish your work. It's too easy to get caught up in other things and lose your creativity for the day. Some writer's like to have music on while writing. If that works for you then do it, but stay away from the nightly news and the talk shows when you are working on your story.
4. Read. Reading is imperative if you want to be a good writer. You might think you don't have time to read. Yes, you do have time to read, you just don't realize it. At the end of 2011 I decided I was going to make sure I made time for reading in 2012. By the end of 2012 I had read 56 books, more books than I had read in the previous five years combined. It was then that I noticed I was wrong when I felt I didn't have time to read, I did have time but I wasn't making it a priority. Making time to read might mean turning off ESPN and TMZ for a while, but that's what you need to do if you want to be a quality writer. As Stephen King says in a YouTube clip "if you don't have time to read, you can't be a writer. You have to read just about everything." If you are new to reading, start by reading something that you think you will enjoy. It's much easier to build the habit by reading about your favorite subjects and people. You don't have to put yourself through a 900 page book that bores you to get into the habit of reading each day. Set a daily goal for number of pages to read each day and stick with it, or set a time during your day when you are going to read and don't stop until you reach the end. Set a timer if you need to.
Those are the main things I recommend for young, inspiring, writers. If you want or need someone to help push you, I'd say joining a writer's group or taking a creative writing class at a local Community College is a great way to get started. You can benefit from that no matter what kind of writer you want to be. This will also push you to write regularly and require you to share your writing which will help you get feedback and get past some of those fears that new writer's have about sharing their work. A new year is almost here, set your goals and make a plan to succeed. As Dave Ramsey says "the difference between a dream and a goal is a plan." Make your 2014 plan today. Do it right now.