There’s always a reason not to write. Family obligations, big life events, financial pressures and health issues can all reduce the time we have to write. We can’t prepare for everything, but by planning ahead, we can give ourselves the best shot at achieving our writing goals. Below are a few suggestions that could help you reach your writing goals this year.
Write down your goals
What are your writing goals for 2023? Whether you’re hoping to finish a horror novel, write the first draft of a poetry collection, get a magazine article published, complete a writing program or all of the above, identifying and committing to a few specific goals will help you reach them. Try not to get side-tracked. If another writing opportunity comes along, ask yourself whether this new project will help you reach your goals, or is simply taking time away from other projects.
Think about the amount of time you can realistically commit to your writing and structure your goals accordingly. Keep your goals somewhere you’ll actually be able to see them. Print them out and pin them on the wall.
Follow up with a plan
Now that you have your goals, how exactly will you achieve them? Write out a plan. The best structure will depend on how you like to work. I use spreadsheets or project management tools to create writing plans.
Your plans don’t have to be sophisticated. If my goal were to submit short articles to magazines, my plan might look something like this:
If my goal was to write the first draft of a novel, I could create a plan like this:
The most important thing about the planning process is to ensure that there is a time component. Break out your project into sections and attach realistic deadlines. For example, if you’re writing a poetry collection, determine how many poems you will be able to produce each month, leaving time at the end for reviewing and editing.
Find time and space to write
Writing doesn’t require expensive equipment. It does, however, require time and space (from others). If you’re attempting to pen a novel at the dinner table while your three noisy kids are vying for your attention, you’re unlikely to get very far. Find a quiet space and a quiet time, inside your home or at a local library or café, where you can focus on your writing. It’s helpful if you can commit to a consistent time of day to write, but you can also set goals around how many hours you will commit per month if you need more flexibility.
Connect with others who can help you stick to your goals
Writing is a solitary business for the most part, but I find I am the most disciplined with my writing when I have to submit my work to someone. This doesn’t have to be a publisher. Find a writing partner or join a writing group and be prepared to submit work to peers by a certain date. There are also mentorship programs and writing courses that will require you to submit work at specific points in the process.
Allow for some flexibility in reaching your writing goals. A lot can happen in a year. If life gets in the way and your writing plans change, don’t get too disheartened. Go back to your plan and adjust your timelines. Writing is a creative process. Some stories take longer to tell than we think. Don’t give up. Plans may change, but we can still reach our goals.
I wish you all the best with your writing goals this year!
Josephine Boxwell is a writer of fiction and nonfiction based in Alberta. Her first nonfiction book, Celebrating Musical Excellence; 50 Years of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra 1952-2022 will be released later this year. Set in small-town BC, her novel, Unravelling (Guernica Editions) was published in 2020. Josephine has written short pieces for several publications including Chirp Magazine (Owlkids) and BC’s Northword Magazine, as well the anthologies, Swelling with Pride: Queer Conception & Adoption Stories (Dagger Editions) and Wherever I Find Myself: Stories by Canadian Immigrant Women (Caitlin Press). She has also created online content for the Edmonton City as Museum Project and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.