Welcome back readers and writers! The Sword and Silk blog is back to reign in the new year after our holiday hiatus. We are ready to bring you another year of posts, books, and more.
To kick things off this year, we are starting with a timely reminder to be kind to yourselves because, gentle reader, there is a lot happening in the world right now. Which ties into today's topic.
Setting Yourself Up With Goals to Succeed
Every January, we enter the New Year on a high of fresh starts, lofty goals, and simmering ambitions. Many of us reign in the changeover with a list of resolutions and aspirations. We tell ourselves, this is it, this is going to be the year we write 2k a day. This is the year we bang out a novel every six weeks. This is the year we find an agent. Or get published. Be goals, be dreams. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with having those dreams, BUT, it is also important to give ourselves room to breathe with flexibility and forgiveness, and to celebrate what we do accomplish instead of dwelling on perceived failures.
Room to Breathe
Goals are wonderful things. They can boost your drive, give you a sense of accomplishment, and a cause for motivation. But if your life was a chaotic mess coming out of 2021, those problems often don't magically disappear. As someone who personally limped into the new year, I knew setting myself with big goals would be met with some hard resistance from the utter exhaustion I carried with me into 2022. You can't expect yourself to immediately start banging out large word counts if you are starting with a tapped out creative well and long over due burn out.
But as someone who is highly motivated by goals, not having them feels like a missed opportunity. How can you set yourself up to succeed and have the best of both worlds? The key really is flexibility and forgiveness in your goal setting and planning.
Rather than starting off the year with a banger, give yourself a recuperation period. Make it part of your plan to refill your creative well with books, movies, games, whatever you need to refresh your mind and give yourself a much needed breather. Whether that breather looks like two weeks or a month, you can always break it or extend it, depending on what you need, but including down time into your plan is a huge boon to you, and by making it part of your plan, you may surprise yourself when the urge to get writing strikes.
Instead of a daily word count, set a flex goal. I would love to hit 10k words a week, but I would also be happy to hit 2k words a week. That lowball goal breaks down to less than 300 words a day, which seems absurdly low BUT creating that flex goal gives your mind a level jumping point. Hitting a lowball goal is a lot more feasible in high stress weeks, where 2k feels like climbing a mountain, while it is a goal that is easy to exceed on those high motivation weeks. Creating a flex goal for yourself allows you to maintain a sense of accomplishment and momentum even on weeks you struggle to get words on the page.
Most importantly, remember to forgive yourself even if you don't meet that flex goal. Deadlines aside, you are most accountable to yourself and the people we are often toughest on are ourselves when it comes to goals and failure to meet them. If you are looking at a particularly tough month of long day job hours or alternate responsibilities, think about something like alternating weeks. Have a week of writing and a week of recuperating. Or alternate days to write ten minutes before bed. The words might come slow and it might be hard to carve out time for them, but it is important to take care of ourselves first and remember, that word count keeps growing, one word at a time.
Celebrate Your Wins
Hello, exhausted author, this is your writing conscience here to remind you that while you are kicking yourself over whatever deadline or goal you 'failed' to meet because life was stomping on your face, you still did a ton this past year. You wrote, you juggled a dozen life responsibilities. You had a dozen victories, big and small, that you forgot to take a moment to savor because you were so focused on what you didn't accomplish.
Remember, you did amazing things.
My biggest wish, as your writing conscience, is that you go into 2022 and celebrate your milestones. Take a moment to ruminate that you did the thing, be it a word count, a chapter, a rough draft, an edit, or whatever big or small milestone you meet. Stop, take a breath, set aside what comes after, and let yourself feel it. You did something amazing.
Let's go get it.