The first day of spring nearly coincides with the end of the first quarter of the year, and I think it’s an excellent time for a writer’s check in! Let’s assume you’ve set some writing goals for the new year. As March winds down, you have an opportunity to assess your progress and make modifications if needed. Here are a few thoughts on how to evaluate your forward progress and correct your course if needed:
Were your goals realistic?
If you’re a new writer working on your first project, you may have had no idea how much content you’d be able to produce in a day, a week, or a month. Now you have a couple of months’ worth of data. Perhaps you’d aimed for five thousand words per week, but find you are averaging only half that number. In my experience, it’s important to set achievable goals. Here are a few tips on setting realistic writing goals: Writing Resolutions.
If you are a seasoned writer, it’s still important to assess your progress against your goals. Life circumstances change. Maybe you have a new day job, and temporarily need to spend more time focused on that. Again, it’s important to set goals you can actually achieve.
What’s your writing rhythm?
Did you plan to lock yourself in your office for a couple of hours after dinner each night, but find you’re really too tired by then? Maybe you can wake up an hour earlier and write when your mind feels fresh. You may find that one good hour, when you are at your best, is worth three or four hours of time when you’re not. Maybe the cozy days of winter inspire hours of writing by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate. Or maybe, the longer days of spring motivate you to get up earlier and put pen to paper. Whatever the case, I believe working with your natural rhythms will help maximize your productivity. Read more on that here.
Have you learned about your creative process?
When I wrote my first book, I had plenty of assumptions about how the whole creative process should work. I didn’t understand that there would be days when the words flowed easily from my head to the paper, and days when the words felt stuck. I didn’t feel productive at all when I had to spend hours, sometimes days, solving a plot tangle in my mind before I could write a new scene.
What I’ve learned through experience is that I have to set aside a specific amount of time each day devoted toward creating new content. But, whether I stare at the screen for half that time struggling to get a word out, or I finish the session with a thousand words more than I planned, it’s the habit that’s important. Sometimes during a writing session, I won’t even open my laptop. Instead, I’ll have a notebook out and I’ll scribble down potential solutions to a plot problem or I’ll work on outlining the next big scene. This is all part of the creative process.
Clear the slate and move on.
As spring arrives and the first quarter of the year comes to end, take some time to assess where you are and where you want to go with your writing projects. Be honest about what’s working and what isn’t, and make the necessary adjustments. Celebrate the work you’ve accomplished thus far, even if it wasn’t as much as you’d planned. Then, clear the slate and move on!