Here are four writing goals and six suggestions to achieve each:
Make Writing a Regular Part of the Day
- Set aside specific time each day to write and place it in your planner. Keep your appointment as you would any other.
- Write even when you don’t feel like it. The point is to write every day, not necessarily write well every day. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
- Explain to your family and friends that writing is important to you and ask them to be considerate of your scheduled writing time. They may or may not understand, but hopefully they’ll respect your decision.
- Develop a ritual for your writing time. Perhaps you need a cup of your favorite beverage at hand. Maybe you want to begin your session by reading an inspiration quote or writing prompt. Maybe you want to have music playing. When you discover what works for you, stick with it.
- If you’re working on a longer piece, you may find it helpful to go back and read a few paragraphs from the day before. This can serve as a springboard for your new writing. Resist the temptation to use writing time as editing time. You’ll have time to polish your work after your get the first draft together.
- If you miss a day or two, forgive yourself. If you need to tweak your schedule, do so. But don’t give up on the idea of writing every day—or as many days each week as is reasonable for you.
Develop Writing Skills
- Follow skills development blogs and YouTube channels.
- Treat yourself to a new skills development book.
- Connect with other writers via social media and exchange information about what you’re learning.
- Consider attending a one-day workshop or writers’ conference this year.
- Remember to incorporate what you’re learning as you go.
- Crazy as it sounds, just write. Usually the more we write, the better at it we get.
- Zero in on your target audience. If you try to write for too broad an audience, it’s unlikely to “hit home” for anyone.
- Sign up with a blog host if you haven’t already. (I’m a huge fan of WordPress.) Purchase [your name] [dot] com from a company such as namecheap [dot] com (It’s easier for people to find you online if you use your own name. Because stephanienickel [dot] com was taken, I write as Steph Beth Nickel.) You can always have a clever tagline to let visitors know what your site is all about.
- Decide on an achievable goal. When I began blogging, I posted daily, but I am no longer able to do so. Now I post three times per week on my blog and once per week on my website. (I pulled eight blogs together at stephseclecticinterests [dot] wordpress [dot] com before starting stephbethnickel [dot] com)
- Create a backlog of posts so new material “goes live” on schedule even if you don’t have time to write any given week. The most important thing is to show up consistently. (I’ve come to love the “schedule” feature of WordPress and other blogging hosts.) Otherwise, it’s difficult to reach new readers and keep your current readers engaged.
- Consider inviting guest bloggers to post on your site from time to time. Of course, it’s important to approach bloggers who write for your target audience. It’s also important to approach those who will benefit from reaching out to your audience. For example, if you have 500 followers, it’s best not to approach a blogger with tens of thousands of followers.
- Study other blogs. Develop your skills. Then offer to write guest posts for other bloggers. If they turn down your offer, graciously accept their decision and approach someone else.
Get Published in 2016
- Write, polish, and self-edit your piece / book. Test it out on critique partners and / or beta readers. Get it professionally edited and proofread. You want to have something that is ready to share with readers.
- Consider getting an agent if you have written a novel or book-length nonfiction work. This can be a long, arduous process, but if you have completed the suggestions in #1, it will be more likely. Be very careful to thoroughly research the agent(s) you want to contact. If they require payment before they sell your work to a publisher, run don’t walk in the opposite direction. Reputable agents get paid when you get paid.
- Put together a detailed book proposal to interest potential agents and / or publishers.
- Research potential publishers. If you are going to approach publishers without an agent, you must know if they accept direct contact from the author (unsolicited submissions) and exactly what they publish. It makes no sense to approach a children’s publishing house with your inspirational historical novel for adults for example.
- If you’re considering self-publishing, a great option for shorter works—even for full-length works if you have a fairly extensive following, you will want to do your research. There are countless considerations, including the financial aspects when publishing with a company based in a different country.
- And one of the most important aspects of any worthwhile endeavor: Be persistent. Rejection is part of the process. If you want to write, produce the best work you can and, as the proverb goes, get up more often than you are knocked down.
We’d love to hear about your writing resolutions for 2016.
Contributed by Stephanie Nickel, CES writer and editor