Happy New Year! So, are you ready to kick your 2017 writing goals in the butt?

I’m willing to bet money you had one of two reactions to that: 1. YES. 2. AAAAH.

Writing Goals: How to Get Your Writing Off to a Good Start in 2017

Deep breaths. I’m here to give you some tips that will help you get your 2017 writing off to a good start—and keep it going.

I Know You Don’t Have Time For This

Before I explain further, let me address the number one issue: yes, I know you don’t have time for this.

Our world is filled with good things to do. Very few of us have “free” time, and I write this article knowing that. Here’s the thing: in order to succeed, you will have to choose what “good thing” to fill your time with.

That means that to write well, you’ll sometimes need to give up one good thing to do another. I’m not telling you to give up bad habits. Some of you have those, sure, but most writers I know don’t. We fill our time with things that are important.

Well, in order to be a writer, you’re going to have to make a hard choice: you need to choose which things are more “good” than others. Following are three good things you can do to write well in 2017.

Step One: Fill Your Creative Well

Okay, I know you’ve heard me say this before. This is a hard one because it requires intentional effort; it requires you to carve out time and dedicate yourself to certain things.

It’s still really important.

Here’s why: When we create, we pour ourselves onto the page. If we do not refill ourselves, we will eventually find ourselves running empty.

Your number one challenge in 2017 must be to refill your creative well. This means reading good things, watching good things, listening to good things. It means spending some energy on things other than writing—cooking, exercise, painting, reading. It means making sure that you invest in more than one thing.

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it’s just the truth. If you’re willing to invest yourself in different creative ventures, your writing will flourish.

This year, make time to experience beauty. Make time to explore. Do creative things other than writing, and experience other people’s creations. Your writing will only flourish if you do.

Step Two: Set Realistic Writing Goals

This is a particular pitfall I’ve stumbled into many times: eager to write and determined to write, I set myself writing goals that I can’t actually achieve, and when I miss them, I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve had amazing writing days, producing thousands of words. I’ve also made the mistake of setting “three thousand words a day” as my goal.

You may roll your eyes now. It went about as well as expected.

Here’s the thing: life is messy. It’s unpredictable, and it’s complicated, and it leaves you unable to promise yourself six hours at a time to write. But here’s what you can do: weekly goals.

Ideally, you’ll write every day. If you set that number to something small, you have a good chance of achieving it. If course, you can’t really predict what each day will bring. Life is weird. It changes. The good news is it’s my experience that you CAN achieve a weekly goal.

Let’s say your goal is 2100 words a week. That averages out to 300 words a day. (This is on the REALLY LOW end, just to be clear.) Some days, you’ll write 0 words. Some days, you’ll write 1200 words. If you focus on a weekly goal, you are likely to reach it—and that’s what I’m encouraging you to do.

See, part of the key to writing well through the year is momentum. Have you ever sprinted? It’s a great feeling to run as fast as you can, but nobody can do that for very long. I’m not asking you to sprint in your writing. Instead, I want you to learn how to marathon.

A marathon requires a steady pace. It requires knowing one’s self and listening to one’s body. For you, this may not mean writing every day.

What it does mean is setting a goal you can reach. You’ll be more likely to keep it. You’ll also be more likely to forgive yourself if you blow it. (We all need permission to suck, after all.)

In fact, that brings me to my last point.

Step 3: Give Yourself Permission to Suck

I know, I know. Those very words seem horrible. Anti-inuitive! Self-defeating!

Nope. They’re actually empowering. Here’s what that looks like in bullet form:

  • It’s 2017. You want to write well this year.
  • You will set goals and do your best. But some days, you’re going to suck. (It’s part of being human.)
  • In order to get past those days and NOT GIVE UP, you need to give yourself permission to have days like that.
  • Why? Because permission to suck means that on those days you blew it, you did not fail.

That last point deserves repeating. Giving yourself permission to suck means that when you blow it, you can acknowledge you did not fail, and that means you can pick up the next day and keep going.

Giving yourself permission to suck means no failure.

Whoa. Crazy concept. Perfectionism is your enemy? Yep. Or, as Neil Gaiman puts it:

You Can Do This: Write in 2017

You’ve got a lot to do this upcoming year. You need to write. That takes a lot, but I know you can do this. What it’s going to take is making choices on your part.

This year, fill your creative well.

This year, set yourself realistic goals.

This year, allow yourself to make mistakes and keep on going.

You can do this, fellow writer. Let’s make 2017 our best writing year yet!

What are your writing goals for 2017? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

You can do this. 2017 can be your year for writing well. Let’s start by taking time now (even if it means setting aside another good thing) to create a game plan for the year. In the comments, I want to hear from you:

  1. Tell me how you plan to fill your well.
  2. Tell me your weekly goal.
  3. And most important of all, tell me you give yourself permission to suck.

Don’t forget to encourage three other writers. See you in the comments!

Ruthanne Reid
Ruthanne Reid
Sci-fi/fantasy author Ruthanne Reid currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona, though some say she really lives in her head. They'd be right. To see what she's all about (and snag free books), visit RuthanneReid.com or follow her on Twitter (@RuthanneReid).