Write, Writing Tips

Setting Realistic and Achievable Writing Goals

Hello and Welcome back to my blog. Today I want to talk to you about how I set my goals while managing my chronic illness, children and household. I thought with Camp NaNoWriMo just around the corner, what better time to write this post.

The last 3 years have been tough when it comes to managing my expectations. My health has changed massively and I can no longer do what I was able to previously. This has led to me feeling frustrated and disappointed in myself, however, I have now realised that the expectations I put upon myself are massively unrealistic and as such I have had to adapt and change how I go about things. Time for me can be unpredictable, each day will be different and as such I have to make sure I look after myself mentally and physically and do what I can when I feel like I can.

So how do I go about this?

Well, firstly I write down all my goals, no matter how big or small. What do I want in life? What do I want this year? This quarter?

Once it’s all out on the page I can start to sort through it. I split them into sections i.e Writing, Home, Health etc.

I take one goal from each section, this is the one that has either the highest priority or that I want to get done more than any others. Now this doesn’t mean the others just get thrown aside but I will get to those later.

For each task I have picked I split it into components, for me the smaller the better. I like to work with ticking things off as I feel I am accomplishing more, plus on a bad day it still means I may be able to get at least 1 thing done.

Once I have these tasks written down, I look at them and work out how much time I need to realistically give to this task, some might be small enough to take 10 minutes, others might take a a fair few hours split over numerous days. The important thing here is to be realistic, overestimate your time if anything.

So for example, I knew I wanted to finish writing my book. I have around 20,000 words left to get done as well as a first pass edit in order to hit my deadline in June for submitting to the RNA. Looking at my previous months where February I wrote 30k and March where I wrote 18k, both months writing less than 20 days, I know that in April, if I write daily I can easily hit the 20k goal. However, I know realistically I will not write every day so I book myself 1 day off a week. I don’t have to take it and if I feel like writing then I will but it gives me 4/5 days over the month for when I am not up to writing.

Now I have the tasks split and time estimated I can realistically look at when this task will be finished. I plan my work by quarters, so If I have this book written by the end of April, edited by the End of May and Submitted on 1st June, it leaves the rest of June to work on something else. This is where I can go and look at which task I want to start next. I do not do this until I know I am on track. Something may happen and I get thrown off course, but that’s okay, I have essentially a month before the end of the quarter to play with so that reduces the pressure and overwhelm.

I have my monthly word goal but I do not split this into daily word counts as I find that each day is different and I may get 300 words or 3000, it will depend on how I feel, what needs doing around the house, whether or not my child is in school or off on holiday etc. Instead what I do now is I set a Good, Better and Best goal, these are 3 different amounts ranging from small to large. I do this so if I hit the Good Goal, I still feel I have done something. If I hit the large goal then fantastic, I am ahead. An example is Good = 300 words, Better = 700 words, Best = 1200 words.

Aside from setting these goals I have also learnt to trick my brain, it has taken about 2 months to build this habit but I write daily (mostly). I tell myself I only need 15 minutes, I set my timer and for those 15 minutes I write. I may get 250 words or I may write 600 words. Some days I just do that 15 minutes and over the week it adds up, but 9 times out of 10 I end up doing another 15 minute sprint. Quite often I split my day with these sprints and do one on the hour every hour between 10am and 2pm.

Another tip, before you sit to write set yourself what I call a power hour (or power 20 mins, whatever suits your life), during this time I try to get all the little bits of house work, dinner prep, whatever out of the way. I find this helps so much when it comes to finding distractions when writing. Once the house is straightened up, I have had a shower, prepped the veg for dinner I can sit and write. One the days when I do the 15 mins every hour I spend the other 45 minutes either catching up writing blog post drafts, reading the books I have due for review, watching YouTube videos on the writing craft, doing more housework (getting ahead) or chilling with a tv series or game.

As I said, there are days when my illnesses can flare and I can be bedbound, for 3-4 days or in hospital having surgery again but I now don’t stress about what I ‘should’ have got done because when I am well enough I just refresh where I am at, recalculate and start again. The key is to be real about your time and health, don’t underestimate what may happen, break down those big tasks into manageable chunks and remember, every little thing you do, no matter how small is one step closer to achieving that dream. Prioritise self-care, because you cannot work effectively if you are not in your best self.

I hope you find this post helpful and if you have any tips, tricks or want to let me know how you goal set then please let me know in the comments below.

Emma-Louise x

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