I decided to try being motivated this year. By which I don’t mean to imply that in previous years I’ve had no oomph, more that I haven’t really thought about it. I wrote when I felt like it, I submitted pieces when I got round to it, I had no particular writing goals but it was great when things worked out well. Then 2011 arrived and I decided I needed a bit more organisation in my life. And some goals, aims and measurable achievements might be nice too.
I started with a calendar, and coloured in each day I don’t have to go to work – not that I dislike my job, but it does get in the way of real life sometimes. Then I looked through the Duotrope theme calendar (which I’ll have to do periodically to keep up to date) and wrote the deadlines I was interested in on my coloured-in calendar. I wrote on a weekly reminder to write a blog post, throughout January (I’m ending up posting more than once a week at the moment, and I might shift days later so I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself), and reminders that I need to submit a particular story or redraft or print something for later. For the first time, I’d sat down and thought about what writing projects I have on the go at the moment (too many! Including the next graphic novel), prioritised them, tried to assess how long I need to spend on them and where I want to end up.
The calendar is hanging from a ribbon by my bureau and I’ve got into the habit of checking it each day. I can’t swear I’m absolutely sticking to the plan, and habits you get into you can also fall out of, but it does seem to have helped. I’ve put more thought into what writing I’d like to do, and tried harder to fit half an hour in between other things where previously I might have thought I’d get nothing done in half an hour so why start. One of my main problems was that I had too many part-finished projects and I found it hard to decide on the spur of the moment which one I should spend time on, or which one I was in the mood for. By saying that on a particular evening I’m going to concentrate on a particular story, I cut out that time-wasting. I’m experimenting with making the effort to go to the library during my lunchbreak to write in peace for half an hour (I just have to stop myself taking any books out), and so far it’s working OK (I’m making progress on a story I’m trying to finish for a deadline from the Duotrope theme calendar, in fact).
January isn’t over yet, so if you feel like you need a shove in the right direction, it’s not too late to buy a calendar (they’re often cheap this time of year, which is a bonus). All that planning might sound a bit too much like work but you might find it turns an OK writing year into a good one.