I have been writing for almost three years now but still consider myself to be a ‘newbie’ – I have no book deal, no back-catalogue of novels, no editor, no publisher, no cover artist.
***So why should you continue reading this post?***
Because despite all this, I am a writer, and I have a point of view that I hope at least some of you will be able to relate to.
There are lots of great blogs on the Internet about the craft of writing, some of which I will be linking you to in future posts, but what I want to do here on this blog, is to journey along with you, as someone who is working towards that lofty goal of a completed first novel.
As a new writer, I found (and still do sometimes) that some of the excellent writing blogs were actually working to de-motivate me: I couldn’t match up with other author’s achievements; they didn’t feel RELEVANT to me and my situation.
As I started out, I found setting SMART goals to be helpful. I used them as a tool to keep me motivated: achieving goals (however small) is very uplifting!
S (specific) – The who, what, where, when and why.
A general goal might be ‘publish a short story.’ A specific goal might include:
How many days a week will you write?
How many words per day?
Where will you be submitting your work.
How will you know if you have completed your goal? There are a number of ways you could choose to measure your success against your goals:
Your short stories are getting finished.
You start receiving feedback from friends.
Are you hitting your daily / weekly word quota?
Either the rejection emails start rolling in, or you work is accepted into an online webzine!
If your goal is meaningful to you, you will develop new skills and abilities that help you on your way to achieving your goal. Goals that seem far away, will eventually get closer, not because the goal shrinks, but because you grow.
How will you learn the skills to progress?
Have you set yourself a goal that will be hard to accomplish? Whilst there is nothing wrong with having lofty goals, I would suggest breaking them down into more achievable ones. Wanting to be as prolific and successful as Stephen King is great, but are you setting yourself up to fail?
Your goal must be something that you are willing and able to work towards.
Curiously, setting a higher target might be easier to attain than a lower one, as the motivational forces at work may be higher.
T (Time limited)
Set yourself a time limit. Even if you do not have a publisher breathing down your neck, having no time constraint instils within you no sense of urgency.
Look at your daily word count targets. A 5000 word short story will take 10 days at 500 words a day. But have you considered all the other factors in your life – kids, jobs, illness? Maybe 250 words a day is more realistic, giving you 20 days to complete that story.
I am keen to hear from authors in a similar position to me: how did you go about starting out? Experienced authors: what light can you shed on this process for the rest of us? Leave me a comment to let me know.
Next time, I will be looking at some of the options available to new writers as they start out.