6 Easy, Revealing Ways You Can Prevent & Overcome Overload

6 Ways to Cope with Writer Overwhelm Natural Writer Podcast

For a writer, writing is the dream. The writer wants to make it in the world and let their words hold their place in it. However, getting to that point can be somewhat overwhelming. So much so, that writer overwhelm can stop some writers from even starting. The goal then is just to reach the finish line of their novel or story, to be able to write “The End.”

But what about when you reach the finish line? What then?

We all know that the rough draft is not the final draft. And no matter how beautiful you think that first draft is, it is not the final draft. Editing and revision is a huge part of the writing journey, and it can seem like a daunting task, but it is a necessary one. This can create overwhelm in itself!

Then you have to consider what you want to do with your book when you’ve completely polished it. Do you want to just keep it for yourself? Make a small batch to give out to friends and family? Publish? Do you want to self-publish, or do you want to traditionally publish? Do you use indie publishers or one of the big 5?

There’s a lot to think about!

The good news is that there are ways to deal with this kind of stress. Let me walk you through the six ways to deal with overwhelm.

Six Ways
to
Combat Writer Overwhelm

Let me first start by saying that this is in no particular order. There are steps which might benefit you to take part in before others, or some steps which might not even be applicable to you. I encourage you to try everything to prevent your writer overwhelm, but I’ll leave the order in which you test them up to your own creative expertise.

ONE
Make a To-Do List
to Prevent & Overcome
Writer Overwhelm

Make a to-do list to combat and prevent writer overwhelm.
This image is to povide a quick glance at how to create your to-do list

When I was in college, I would get overwhelmed by everything on my plate. It didn’t help that I was working three jobs at the time, including my tutoring gig for the college, and not including the private tutoring I was doing on the side, or even working as a class assistant for the ESLA students.

When I had the massive tsunami of to-do’s crashing through my mind, I stressed myself out, to put it mildly. I would sit and stare at the homework I was supposed to be doing and be completely paralyzed and unable to focus on getting anything done.

Finally, I wrote a list and organized it.

It went something like this:

  1. Create a list of everything that needs doing by the end of the week/month
  2. Organize it by what needs doing first
  3. Break down the steps for each item on the list (research, editing, writing, gathering surveys, how long a shift takes, etc.)
  4. Estimate how long each task will take to complete.
  5. Write out how much time I need for daily living (eating, sleeping, transport, exercise, etc.)
  6. Create a schedule for each day to complete each task

I found that when I did this, I realized two things:

  1. I didn’t have as much on my plate as I thought I did
  2. None of my tasks would take as long as I thought they would

Once I had a visual in front of me of what needed doing, by what time, and how long it would take to get each thing done, I was able to make a plan and stick to it.

Breaking the Day Up

I would take this a step further and break my day up by my breaks. So, for example, lunch break, coffee break in the afternoon, and dinner. As a student, you can imagine that I didn’t stop once dinner time hit. I would usually keep working into the evening, only to get up at 3 in the morning (yeah, you read that right). I’m not suggesting you get up at 3 in the morning to start your day, by the way.

When I broke the day up with my breaks, I could section my day into “bite-sized” chunks. I knew that before breakfast I wanted to go back over my math homework. I knew that between breakfast and lunch I had a class, a tutoring shift, and an hour to work on my English paper, during which time I would pull out the quotes I wanted to use, and so on.

The trick was to only look at the section of the day that was coming up next. This meant I could compartmentalize the day, which made my tasks more manageable.

Crossing Items Off

A pen and to-do list with an item crossed off: this can be a visual affirmation that you are getting stuff done.
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

When you have a massive to-do list, it can feel like you’re trying to dig a hole on the beach in the surf. You keep shoveling sand and water out of the hole, but it just keeps filling up.

When you list out your tasks for a day, including the mini tasks to build up to the whole task, you feel a sense of accomplishment. You can see that you’re getting things done, and that you’re not just digging a hole that won’t be dug. This is essential to keeping you going through a daunting mountain of work supporting that writer overwhelm.

When we can visually see what we’ve already done and that we’re making progress, we’re more likely to keep moving forward.

TWO
Get Clear on Your Goals
to Prevent Writer Overwhelm

What do you want to do with your story/book/writing career? Do you want to be the next Stephen King? Do you want to be a travel writer? Do you want to make a passive income? Expand your business with your knowledge? Become a self-help guru?

Do you want to just get your story out there, and then whatever happens, happens? Do you want to be a part of the 20Booksto50k rush to make your living with rapid release self-publishing? Or are you wanting to create something for your loved ones to enjoy?

Knowing your goals can help you decide the path you need to take. Furthermore, when you know what you need to take, then you can prevent unnecessary actions, and thus prevent writer overwhelm.

I want to be very clear with this: your goals must represent what you want, not what you think you should want.

This might take some time and a lot of self-reflection to know what it is that you truly want from your writing life. There are a couple steps you can take to discovering this.

Journal

Your journal is your trusty companion that you should be utilizing throughout your writing journey. It is your conversation with yourself so you can understand what’s going on in your head, what you’re feeling, and so on.

In this instance, you can work through these questions in your journal to understand your goals better. Go through each question one at a time and really spend some time writing on it. Set a timer on your phone or your watch and give yourself at least seven minutes to write on each one, trying not to stop writing even when you’ve run out of things to say. If you do run out of things to say, write “I don’t know what to write” on repeat until something else comes up or your timer runs out.

Get into the “why” of each answer you give. Keep asking yourself until you feel you’ve reached the core of your answer.

Journal Questions

Journal questions to help you understand your version of success so you can effectively navigate you way through writer overwhelm
  1. What does success look like to you?
  2. Where have you been successful in the past, in any area of life, and by whose standards of success? How did it feel?
  3. What does writing success look like to you? How is it measured? In money? Books printed? Books sold? Books written?
  4. What does a writing career look like to you?
  5. What does success look like on a daily basis? As in, what does your writing routine look like, how you fit it in with the rest of your life, etc.? Does this include a possible wordcount goal, chapter goal, hourly goal? Get specific.
  6. What is your writing routine now?
  7. How do you feel after completing your wordcount or hourly writing goal? Are you relieved? Drained? Exhausted? Pleased?
  8. What is your timeline of success?

These questions are meant to help you get real with yourself, to know yourself. Often times, we’re stuck in the story of what we’re told is successful or accomplished.

When I graduated high school and was asked what I wanted to do with my life, I said I wanted to be a starving writer. I had in part being glib, but I was also being real. My version of success at that time was simply to write. I didn’t care if I published (I did care, but that wasn’t the end goal), or if I made money. All that mattered to me was that I was always writing.

Mapping

Map out what your life would look like if you succeeded in your goal. Get as detailed as you can. What does the overall picture look like? What does your living situation look like? Really dig in and look at each area of your life:

  • Lifestyle and livelihood – your housing, your income, how you live your life
  • Body and wellness – how does this affect your physical and mental self?
  • Creativity – you’re a writer, so it feels like you should always be creative, but if you sell your book and become the next J. K. Rowling, how will it affect your creativity? Just ponder this idea.
  • Relationships – how does this affect your romantic life? Your social life? Your family life?
  • Society – how does this affect your role in society? Will you do more in your community? Less?
  • You – how does your success affect who you are?

Go through and examine how you define success for your writing and imagine yourself in that place. Think about how that affects each of these areas in your life. Be as real as possible. If you want to make your living using a rapid-release method of writing, how does that affect your body? Does it mean that you need to move more because you’re sitting for longer periods of time? Does it mean you would need to ask more of your partner while you work to reach this goal?

Once you’ve taken an honest look at each area of your life, ask yourself if you like what you see, if it’s something that you can embrace. If so—excellent. You’re doing this for you.

If not, that’s okay. Ask yourself what you want each area of your life to look like and then see what version of success fits. You can play around with this as much as you want.

This is for you, for your goals, for your life. No one can live your life but you, so make sure that your writing goals are tailored for your idea of writing success.

THREE
Meditation for Writer Overwhelm

Meditation is an extremely useful tool in just about every area of life, but especially when it comes to preventing as well as overcome writer overwhelm. It can calm us, bring us into a state of presence, and put us in touch with our creative sense. When we feel swamped, it can help to bring clarity of mind, which in turn can help us to organize our thoughts and quell our anxiety.

Meditation can also help us delve into ourselves. When we quiet our minds long enough to listen to the voices of our subconscious, or intuition, we can learn what we truly want. This is extremely helpful when considering your goals as a writer, as well as your goals in your daily life.

There are many ways to use meditation, but here are a few that I recommend.

Daily Meditation

meditation can keep the mind calm before stressful situations occur, as well as keep the mind calm when writer overwhelm threatens to strike.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Making meditation a habit can help clear your mind in general. When you create time and space to make meditation a part of your daily routine, your mind is overall calmer. You can read about this more here.

Daily meditation can be as simple as paying attention to your breathing.

Guided Meditation

There are many guided meditations on YouTube that can help you anchor and center yourself. These meditations can also help you delve into yourself specifically to find answers. One might take you on a journey to talk to your future self, another might take you to a path to get in touch with your intuition. Look through what’s available on YouTube and give a couple a try.

For more meditations for writing, you can find Meditations to Overcome Writer’s Block on Audible, which is a compilation of guided meditations from a variety of writers.

Sleep Meditation

Again, on YouTube, you can find meditations which play throughout the night. These are sometimes called subliminal messaging as well, depending on the you choose. If you can hear the words being spoken, they will often guide you into a meditation, or, if you’re like me, into sleep. The words will either play audibly or under the guise of the accompanying music, throughout the night.

I personally have used these for a variety of things including my fear of flying, waking up motivated, overcoming anxiety during this pandemic, and so on.

Spend a week experimenting with these to see how they help you.

FOUR
Delegate Your Tasks
to Overcome Writer Overwhelm

What? Delegate? Delegate what to who?

I used to work in video production. By that I mean that I helped my partner at the time build up his video production business by helping him market himself, learning to film, learning about cameras and audio, and learning to edit.

In return, he wanted to help me with my own writing overwhelm.

I laughed and told him that my writing was a solo project. How on earth could he help me?

At that time, I wasn’t in any position to be helped with my writing projects. I had one book that I had completed and tried to self-publish (which I have since buried and covered the grave with cement), and was barely writing anything else.

Once I began to take my writing more seriously, I could have asked him for help—and lots of it. There was a lot that I wanted to accomplish, and doing the research for detracted from my writing time and added stress.

Here are some tasks you can delegate:

  • Research for your book
  • Research writing competitions
  • Research agents/magazines/journals/anthologies/publishers accepting submissions
  • Writing your cover letter for your submission or query letter.
  • Book cover design/finding quality and affordable designers
  • Finding Beta readers
  • First round of edits
  • Final edits
  • Setting up your author website/social media
  • Social media management

These are just to list a few.

Professionals

Photo by Canva Studio on Pexels.com

There are a few areas where it is essential to hire a professional. Editing and book cover design are two of those areas. You might be able to design your book cover yourself, if you’d like, but unless you specifically have a background in design, you might be better off handing the task over to someone who does design for a living.

With editors, while you might be an editor yourself or have a keen eye for mistakes, you are too close to your project. That is a fact. Your brain will fix mistakes, and no matter how many times you comb over your MS, there will be some tenacious mistakes that get through.

Fun fact: Gone with the Wind has two typos in it. Those suckers get through no matter how big the book.

There are plenty of ways you can get your piece as polished as possible, but you should still hire someone to proofread, to copyedit, and potentially provide a developmental edit.

Freelancers

You don’t necessarily need to go to a big company to get some of these tasks completed. Have a look on freelance websites for people offering their services. Some great websites are:

This is just to name a few.

However, when you hire a freelancer through these websites, be sure that you stick to the website, especially when it comes to sending documents or completing any transactions. It keeps both you and the freelancer safe and above board.

Likewise, be sure that you get a sample of their work before you hire them. There are many wonderful writers, artists, and website designers out there, but they can also be buried by people offering subpar work for a low price. It is better to spend the extra money to get something you will be happy with.

FIVE
Adjusting Your Timeline
to Prevent Writer Overwhelm

When you set yourself a goal, you need to be sure that you set a realistic timeline. A failure to do so can result in writer overwhelm.

Deadlines are wonderful things. They can keep us focused on a task or a project and get us to the finish line. However, sometimes we set unrealistic timelines, which causes stress, which then leads to overwhelm.

Photo by Michaela on Pexels.com

Your Personal Timelines

When you’re writing for yourself, you need to check in with yourself and be sure that you’re not the one contributing to your stress. If the timeline you set yourself is too strict, but you don’t see a way to move it, take some time to examine why you are stuck on this deadline.

When I first decided I needed to make money with my writing, it wasn’t for the love of writing, but because I had student debt to pay off. I wanted to half my debt-paying time. This put a lot of strain on me. It meant that I was going to need to come up with £500 every single month.

When I became overwhelmed with this, I adjusted my timeline. I didn’t need to do it right away. I just needed to eventually work my way up to it, reminding myself that I would some day pay off my debt with my writing, but I couldn’t force those writing jobs instantly.

If, for example, your goal is to use the rapid-release publishing model to quit your job in a year and be a full-time writer, ask yourself why you need to do this within a year? Can you aim to be part time at both within that timeline?

Returning to the journal prompts, spend some time in contemplation with these questions and explore possible solutions.

Writing for Others

I am a ghostwriter along side being a writing coach. I have one client with whom I’m working on three different series. I am capable of completing a book a week for my client, and I did so for a while. But just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I should.

After four weeks of doing this, I burnt myself out and became completely overwhelmed with anything else that was going on in my life. I talked to my client, and we adjusted my timeline to 10 days per book. As a result, I take three days off from writing and still have a full seven days to complete the book, which is more than enough time for me.

If you are in overwhelm, look at what can be adjusted. Be sure to keep your deadlines, but if you can move them around so that they work better for you, then do so.

If you are writing for someone else, be communicative. I assure you that your editor/publisher would rather get a quality piece of work from you as a result of extra time than a subpar piece of work on time.

SIX
Take Time Off
to Prevent Writer Overwhelm

When we have a pile of things to do, it’s easy to keep working until we can’t. We have things that need to get done, and they need to get done now.

But that doesn’t help anyone. It will burn you out and it might stop your progress completely. Burnout is really just another word for writer overwhelm.

When you’re making a list of things to do and scheduling your day out, remember to schedule time for relaxing for you.

More importantly, remember to schedule days off. That’s plural, by the way.

I mentioned that when I readjusted my timeline with my client for her books, that I took three days off from writing. While it’s actually three days off from writing her books, not writing in general, I make sure the very first day off is a day off from everything.

lounging on the couch and reading a book: relaxation and taking time off is essential for preventing and dealing with writer overwhelm

I don’t at my phone, I don’t touch my computer, and the only time I’m allowed to look at my kindle is if I’m listening to a podcast or reading a fiction book. The only work-related things I’m allowed to do are coaching calls, and that’s because I enjoy them so much.

Make sure that you are taking the time off that you need and deserve. No one can work all the time. We all need days off, even from things that we love.

If you can’t take a full day off, just be sure to schedule breaks for yourself. Mealtimes don’t count. During this time, do something completely different that you enjoy: read a chapter of a book, go for a walk, take a nap, watch an episode of something, meditate, journal, fantasize about completing your goal.

Try to avoid scrolling on social media during this time. It might feel relaxing, but sometimes it can trigger some anxiety, sadness, depression, or make you feel like you’re slacking. Sure those uplifting posts are designed to be motivational, but if you’re making yourself take a break when you’re already stressed, motivational posts might trigger some guilt.

Do not feel guilty for needing to take time off. It’s called Self Care, and self care is essential.

Six ways to deal with overwhelm: Make a list, know your goals, meditate, delegate, adjust, and take a break

Your Homework

This is essentially a post about self-care. Self-care is how you keep your candle lit and ever burning. You can’t do that if you’re burning it on both ends.

Your homework has four parts:

  1. Find a guided meditation that works for you on YouTube. There are plenty out there. Find one that works for you, and spend at least 20 minutes meditating. The purpose of this is to help you be centered and clear minded for the following parts.
  2. Go through the Journal Questions above and answer them all. Even if you’ve done something similar in the past, do it again. We are always changing, and sometimes our desires shift. This keeps us in communication with ourselves so that we can adjust our goals accordingly.  
  3. Ask yourself what tasks, if any you can delegate. Are there any friends or family who would be willing to help with any of these things?
  4. Create a self-care plan for when you start to feel like overwhelm might be creeping up. This might be to make a list ahead of time, to schedule time for yourself to relax before you get too anxious, or it could be to take a day or a week off before it gets to be too much. Figure out what works for you and prepare yourself.

Good luck, and happy writing!


What self-care works for you? Share in the comments below to help others discover ways they can look after themselves when things get stressful.


Want to dive deeper into your writing practice and pinpoint where you can improve your writing lifestyle or the blocks that need to be addressed? Fill out the form below to get your free Celtic Cross Spread for Writers Workbook: 75+ pages of tarot and journaling prompts to get in touch with the writer in you.

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How to Be a Faster Writer and Get Clear on Your Ultimate Writing Life

There are many ways to train yourself to write faster, but none of it is going to work if you don’t have something to work toward.

Header for blog post:
Speed comes with clarity.
Get clear on your ultimate writing life to write faster.
Natural writer coaching

The writing world is changing. Remember the days when all there was to writing was to write the book and submit it to a publisher? From there you would either make money or you wouldn’t? Maybe you’d teach a class on it?

I might be dating myself. Also, I might be going off my very romanticized idea of what the professional writing process was pre-2005.

These days it’s more about speed and frequency of an author’s writing rather than whatever the publisher wants to throw down for promotion. Self-publishing has been a complete game changer to the publishing and marketing world, from how we read books to the plethora of books that are released every day.

Here are some fun statistics and facts for you

In 2015, 700,000 books were self-published. Keep in mind, this is everything, from promotional give-aways to pamphlets, to novels of all genres, poetry collections, children’s books, and the plethora of non-fiction books.
You can bet that as the self-publishing industry has grown more and more populated in the five years since, that there are more published each year.
700,000 books a year is about 1917 books every day, or 79 every hour. That’s just over than a book a minute.

Publishers want you to write more than one book. It’s preferable for a second one to be in the works, if not completed, at the time that you submit the first one. It shows that if your book does well, there’s another already lined up that they can get to print quicker.
Michael Laget of WriterServices (linked above) says, “Publishers want authors who will be able to write additional publishable books or stories or features for them. They prefer an author who continues to write books in the same genre as their first work, rather than one who is a jack-of-all-trades.”

The current rapid release trend is to have a regularly scheduled book release schedule which can range from weekly to quarterly. M. L. Keller of The Manuscript Shredder writes that it’s a method of capitalizing on the Amazon algorithms to make for better sales. What does this mean? Releasing between 4 and 52 books a year.

It’s a lot, right?

Getting out enough words to successfully plow through NaNoWriMo is hard enough, but how in the blue lagoon are you meant to pump out a book, completed and ready to market every three weeks?

The simple answer is, you don’t quite do it like that, but that’s a post for another time.

As a ghostwriter, I write a lot of books. I mean a ton. In the last eight months, I’ve written over 20 books, all but three were fiction, and all were full-length. That isn’t including the short stories and novellas I’ve written as well, and my own work. Oh, and I took a three-week vacation somewhere in there, plus weekly days off—it averages out to be a little over 4,5000 words per day.

I try to make that my minimum word count on the days that I’m ghost-working. On my best days I write 10-13,000 words.

I’m not showing off here. I’m telling you that it’s possible. And I’ll show you how it’s possible.

Know Your Goal and Why

The first thing you need to do is set your word count goal. Are you looking for just a daily word count goal? A goal for the month? The year?

Knowing what you want your word count goal is actually more dependent on what your goal is for your book or your writing career, if that’s the path you’re going down.

Let’s break this down a little bit.

Your Writing Goals

I yammer on about goals a lot. But that’s because they are essential if you want to be successful, no matter how you define success—another thing I won’t shut up about.

Get to the heart of what you want your writing life to look like by spending some time journaling. Here are some questions to get you started:

Image supporting the text:
Designing your Writer goals Journal Questions:
1. Where do I want my writing to take me?
2. Without limitation, what does a day in my ultimate writing life look like?
3. What does my daily writing life look like now?
4. What is success?
5. What is success to me personally?
6. how much writing do I need to produce to feel successful?
7. How do others in my field find writing success and how does that resonate with me?
Natural Writer Coaching
  1. Where do I want my writing to take me?
  2. If there were no limitations, what would a day in the life of my successful writing life look like?
  3. What does my daily writing life look like now?
  4. What is success?
  5. What is success to me personally, as in, what would I need to feel successful?
  6. How many books/collections/articles would I need to publish to feel successful? And by whom?
  7. How do others in my field of writing find success? As in, in the self-published alien romance field? The travel writing field? The Shakespearian mock-sonnet field? The traditionally published epic western space-opera field? Get specific and spend some time researching this.
  8. What do I need to do to find similar success? As in, how many books do I need to write to make a profit? Do I need to traditionally publish or self-publish? What kind of marketing goes into this success?

I know, you just want to write. I get that. But as I’ve said, the publishing world has changed drastically. Even if you are traditionally published, you are still expected to do a lot of heavy lifting to market your book. What’s more, you’re expected to have an online following already cultivated.

Annoying, I know. I was pretty upset when I learned that one.

When you consider all of these things, you need to ask yourself how much work you want to put into your writing end-goal. Do you want to make a living off your writing? Do you just want to get your book out there? Do you want to write to express yourself and then you’ll figure it out later?

Knowing how much work you want to put into your ultimate writing destination is important. It will determine not only your objectives, but your timeline as well. And it can take some research if you really want to hone your goals.

If you’re planning on making a living off your writing, you must treat it like a business, which painfully goes against the fluid creativity we just want to indulge in. I know. I resisted it for a long time, but the unfortunate truth is that it is essential.

Furthermore, depending on your genre, if you want to traditionally publish, or if you want to be successful in the self-publishing world, you need to have more than one book lined up. Repetition will gain followers which increase sales. The easy way of doing this is through a series, but not all genres or topics lend easily to multiple books. Either way, publishers want to see more than one book at the ready or soon to be ready, and self-pub wants all the books, all the time, and fast.

Bottom Line?

  1. Figure out what you want your writing career to look like
  2. Determine what that looks like annually
  3. Set your word count goal from there

Word Count goals

Now that we’ve looked at the big picture goals, let’s look at word-count goals.

Like your career goals, you want to look at the big picture of your ultimate writing life, then move it on down to a smaller goal.

However, this is nowhere near as essential, but is more dependent on how your mind works and deals with numbers.

Annual Word Count Goal

There are a lot of writers out there who set an annual word count goal. This can be beneficial if you like the really big goals to aim toward.

You can set your wordcount goal to be whatever you want, and this can be especially beneficial if your goal is to write your first novel in a year. If you estimate that your first novel should be 75k words, then your annual goal is 75,000 words.

If you want to write your trilogy in a year, then your goal, if each are to be at least 75k words, would be 225,000 words for the year.

Knowing what your overall goal is will help you determine this. If you want to be a full time self-published writer, know what your market demands of you. For romances, for example, most books are between 40- and 55,000 words. It’s also suggested that you release a book every 2 to 3 weeks. This makes about 17-21 books a year to release. I’ve even read of some romance authors aiming for 40 books a year.

With this model, that makes your annual word-count goal anywhere from 680,000 to 2.2 million words a year (if the higher end is 40 books in a year at 55,000 words per book). And it’s possible.

Monthly Word Count

This is a far more common goal, especially with the popularity of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and it’s sibling, CampNaNoWriMo. If you’re unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo occurs in December and sets the goal for writers to write 50,000 words in a month.

I know, that sounds terrifying. I thought so too when I first heard about it in 2008.

Setting monthly word-count goals can be a short-term enough goal to know that the end is in sight, but long-term enough that you can use it to light the fire under you to get your project done, or at least, mostly done.

You can use this as your starting point for your goal, or you can look at an annual word count and divide that word count into months.

If you’re interested in updates on writing events like NaNoWriMo or CampNaNoWriMo, or other fun writing challenges and events, subscribe to my mail list. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Daily Word Count

Yes, writing for profit is a business, and business owners rarely get to take time off, but mental health is important. Be sure to take in consideration mental health days, as well as family days, too.

Again, as we break things down, those massive annual word-count goals don’t seem so bad. Returning to the high-production self-published romance-writing career goal of 40 books a year, that makes 6,028 words a day. When you learn to up your writing speed, that’s not bad at all.

However, determining your daily word count when comparing to your annual or your monthly word count, you want to ask yourself about days off.

There are writers out there who swear that you must write every single day, religiously, without fail.

In theory, I completely agree. I akin it to working out. When I work out, I have to do it every day. As soon as a miss a day, my habit goes out the window. I feel the urge and the want to do it, but I’ll find an excuse for why I can’t do it once I miss that day. The next missed day might be a week from them, but the third and fourth missed day are likely to be in the same week, and once it gets to the fifth missed day, it’s game over until I can get myself back in the habit again.

Thankfully, writers are unique creatures. Out minds all work differently. So if you can take the days off, then go for it.

Furthermore, you should be allowed to take days off. Yes, writing for profit is a business, and business owners rarely get to take time off, but mental health is important. Be sure to take in consideration mental health days, as well as family days, too.

Knowing yourself can determine how many days a week you want to write.

But know this:

The closer you stick to a schedule, the easier you form the habit. The easier you form the habit, the easier it is to learn to write fast, and thus, the more words you’ll produce.

The Take-Away

As you move through this series, you’ll build on your skills to increase your writing speed. This is looking at more than just literally producing words faster, but also at completing projects faster.

Getting clear on your overall goals for your writing life, whether it’s as a hobby, sharing your story or message with the world, or to make writing a career, knowing exactly what you want is going to make the difference in how you go about setting and achieving your goals.

From there, you can break your goal down into whatever works for you—annual word count or book production, monthly word count, or daily word count.

But knowing the end goal is essential so setting the daily and short-term goal.

In the next post, you’ll read about the planning stages, which are absolutely necessary for streamlining your writing. And as a philosophy major, I don’t use the terms “absolutely” or “necessary” lightly.

Your Homework

Your homework assignment is simple in nature but probably more complex in practice.

You’re going to determine what you want out of your writing career. Explore and expand on these journal prompts. They’re the ones from above, but I’ve expanded on them a little to get you started on your own expansion.  

Image to support text:
Designing Your Writer Goals Homework:
1. Get Clear on your writing goals in your writing career
2. Use this goal to look at your annual goal, your monthly goal, and your daily goal
3. Journal your findings: How does that look? How does it make you feel?
  1. Where do I want my writing to take me?
    Really dig deep into this. If there were no limitations, if you could be the next J. K. Rowling, or George R. R. Martin, what would your life look like? Where would you live? What projects would you have on the go? What would your fans know you for?
    Then take this down to a practical level. What does your life look like on a Tom Clancy level, or a Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, Judy Blume, Robert Jordan, etc. level?
  2. If there were no limitations, what would a day in the life of my successful writing life look like?
    This is a follow up to the first part of the first question.
    If you were the author who literally everyone knew the name of, what would your daily life look like? Write this all out, from the time you get up, to when you take snack breaks—hell, even look at what you would eat for a snack and in what setting—to the time you go to bed. Have fun with this. What do your workdays look like versus your weekends?
  3. What does my daily writing life look like now?
    Get detailed, again. If one day differs from another, write them each out. The goal here is clarity on all levels.
  4. What is success?
  5. What is success to me personally, as in, what would I need to feel successful?
    often times we have a definition of what success is that’s instilled in us from society. For example, society’s idea that success is the house and family with the 2.75 children and a white picket fence. It sounds nice, but for many, their idea of success is just to not be in debt, or to have a family  that is comfortable. While others need the flash cars. There’s no wrong answers to this, only introspection to find your own answers.
    What we personally define as successful can be observed when we first look at what our ideal writing life looks like. When we know how we feel during writing and after writing, then we can figure out our own personal brand of success.
  6. How many books/collections/stories/poems/articles would I need to publish to feel successful?
  7. How do others in my field of writing find success? As in, in the self-published alien romance field? The travel writing field? The Shakespearian mock-sonnet field? The traditionally published epic western space-opera field? Get specific and spend some time researching this.
  8. What do I need to do to find similar success? As in, how many books do I need to write to make a profit? Do I need to traditionally publish or self-publish? What kind of marketing goes into this success?
    Again, this is an exercise to make sure you’re defining your own success. But, this also is paying attention to what the market demands of you. For example, if you want to be a full time fantasy writer who self-publishes, you need to leverage your idea of success with the market’s demand.

Once you’ve spent a good amount of time—and I do mean quality time—with these prompts, then think about what would be good goals to set for yourself regarding your writing. Do you do best when looking at an annual picture? A daily picture?

Share your experience and how you’ve found this exercise in the comments below. What are your goals and how do you plan on measuring them?

Or send me an email. Tell me what your goals are. I love hearing about writers and their ambitions and where they are on their journey. Use the contact form below or click the button.

 Don’t worry, there are no wrong answers!

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December 14 Journal Prompt: Know Your Steps

What steps are you going to take toward achieving these goals?

You now have at least some of your goals for the upcoming New Year, with all the steps we’ve taken. You have done some work regarding your fears and how those might influence your success and your goals.

Now we’re going to look at the little tiny steps you can take to achieve your goals.

For some people, making goals for the New Year, or in life, can feel overwhelming. A project might seem HUGE. But when you break it down into smaller bite-sized pieces, it’s not that bad.

A Quick Personal Story

I went back to school nearly 10 years after I graduated from high school. I enrolled in the local community college and set myself the goal of just passing my classes. When I realized I could do that, I jumped and set myself the goal of straight A’s. All the time.

No pressure or anything.

Except it was ALL THE PRESSURE. I did it to myself.

When midterms and finals came around, I was a mess. I was working two jobs while taking four classes (with the way my college was, more than three classes at a time really wasn’t recommended because of their work load), plus an additional pilot program I was helping to design.

I was freaking out a bit.

But when I was swamped with everything, knew that I had school stuff, work stuff, as well as general existing stuff like laundry, grocery shopping, eating, and this weird thing called sleeping, I started making lists.

When I organized my jobs that I needed to get done on a list, and then approximated how much time I thought each thing was going to take, none of it seemed impossible. In fact, it all looked very possible.

I began delegating certain tasks to different days, and I was suddenly able to manage my time that much better. For the projects that were bigger like completing a report on the pilot mentorship project, I broke that down into smaller pieces. Suddenly finding five suitable research papers as my goal for one day was far less daunting than “work on research project.” I had a specific smaller goal to achieve that was manageable.

The Point

The idea is that when you break down your goals into smaller steps that you can assign yourself, then you can achieve them more readily.

Tip: Love NaNoWriMo?
Excited for CampNaNo in April?
You can learn to use Tarot
to plot and develop your story
without even knowing how
to read the card.
Check out my
#30DayTarotWritingChallenge

A great example of this is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those of you who don’t know, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That breaks down to 1667 words in a day. For some, that’s a breeze. For others, it’s like writing the length of a school essay every day.

But a really great way of tackling this is to break it down into small parts and litter the small parts throughout your daily schedule. This is short bursts of 417 words four times through the day. You might do this before breakfast, somewhere around lunch, when you get off work, and then before you go to bed. It’s about a page of single-spaced typing, or a page and a half of double-spaced typing. Far less daunting.

Journal Prompt

You might have already guessed what the prompt is, but I’ll tell you anyway. Your prompt is to look at what you want to achieve, what you’ve been journaling toward over the last few days, and break them down into small chunks.

What can you do daily to work toward your goal? What seems daunting about it?

Furthermore, I want you to look at any fears you might have surrounding it think about steps you can take to work through those fears and resolve them. Journal out and brainstorm as much as you can.

The more you know about your fears, your goals, and the steps you can take to be successful, the more equipped you’ll be for a successful 2020.

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package. This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Book Your Free 30-Minute Call

Fill out the form below to talk to me about your piece. This is about getting to know you and your work, and deciding if we make a good pair to get you through your project.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 13 Journal Prompt: Know Your Fears

What Is Your Fear Around Writing?

There are two more posts specifically about goal setting, and one of them I’d like to talk to you a little bit about fear.

When you boil it down, fear is behind what stops us. We’re afraid of investing, we’re afraid of success, we’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid of being wrong, we’re afraid of being right.

All of this boils down to change. If we have a fear in any of these areas, it’s because we have an idea of what is or should be, and whatever it is that you’re afraid of runs the risk of change.

I listen to a lot of tarot podcasts (if you didn’t know, my dovetail into coaching was via my tarot website and the writing prompts I was posting there), and Lindsey Mack had a wonderful episode recently on the 10 of Swords, which is generally viewed as a difficult card. In the episode she spoke a lot about fear, and what it is in the brain.

Your brain is trying to create a safe route for us, but we can only do it if we can predict what’s going to come. When we have a fear of change, it’s because the change is something that is unknown. The outcome is unknown. And as a result, we fear it because we can’t predict and prepare for it on a deeper level.

If you look at Eckhart Tole and what he has to say on the matter, fear is a result of your ego trying to preserve itself. Similarly to the idea of unpredictability, the ego is trying to maintain its sense of identity. Anything can threaten that sense of self, especially change of status. As a result, we have fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy, and myriad of other difficult emotions.

I cannot recommend his book, A New Earth enough. The first chapter can be a bit dry, but once you get into the meat of it, it’s amazing.

What’s this Got to Do with Writing or the New Year?

When we are setting our writing goals for the New Year, we need to address and confront some of these fears that we might have around success.

Some common writer fears are:

  • Fear of success
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear to start
  • Fear of not finishing
  • Fear of not writing well enough
  • Fear of people reading their work

I won’t get into these too much. However, the end result in many of these is a change in the understanding of yourself. What if you write a book? Then you’ll now be the person who writes books, and with that comes some form of responsibility.

What if you’re successful? What if you fail? Both of these involve changes to the sense of self. If you’re successful, then your identity now involves “writer,” and it can mean keeping up a social media presence, going through the motions of publishing, repping your work, etc. If you fail though, then it could mean a change in how people perceive you.

Whatever your fear regarding your writing is, it has the potential to hold you back in some way.

It can manifest in

  • Writer’s block
  • Stagnation
  • Boredom of a project
  • Inability to stay focused on just one project
  • Constantly working on your piece but never actually getting anywhere with it

Again, these are just a few ways you can see fear interrupt your writing.

When you’re making goals for the New Year, you want to look into what goals you aren’t setting but would like to set. You want to look at the goals you are setting and see how fear is playing a role in how you set yourself up for success this year.

Journal Prompt

This is going to be another two-part journal prompt. It is essential that you really dive deep to get to understand what’s in you, what might be blocking you, and what might be supporting you. Your joy is what’s going to carry you through to find success. Your fear is going to be what holds you back.

Step 1: Your Relationship with Fear

The first part of this is to look at your relationship to fear. This might involve a few days’ worth of reflecting. During this exercise, think about the things that have held you back because you were on some level afraid. Think about the things that infuriated you, and ask how they might have been in response to an underlying fear.

Look at this in relation to your writing, but also in life. Sometimes our fears in life can be symptomatic in our writing as well. For example, if we’re stressed out in life  because we’ve taken on too much, our writing can suffer, even if we make time for it.

Step 1.2: Your Writing

Now look at your writing. Really look at it. Look at all the times you thought “I should be writing,” but didn’t. Think about the times you wrote but wanted to keep it a complete secret. Think about the manuscripts you have, completed, doing nothing.

Ask yourself why all these things are the case, and examine the fear around each situation.

Step 2: Your 2020 Goals

Now that you have some understanding about your fears, ask yourself how they’re going to influence your goals. Are they going to hinder them in some way or will your 2020 goals remain unaffected?

If you think they’ll be a problem, work overcoming that fear into your goals for 2020, into your habits for January.

If you need any help coming up with ways to break through that fear, I’m only a quick message away!

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Book Your Free 30-Minute Call

Fill out the form below to talk to me about your piece. This is about getting to know you and your work, and deciding if we make a good pair to get you through your project.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 12 Journal Prompt: What to Write Next Year

What is your writing goal for the whole of 2020?

We’ve spent some time delving into the habits we can create to make our year successful, but now I’m going to switch gears a little bit. Knowing what you now know about yourself, we are going to look at what goals you can set for the whole of 2020.

Writing goals mean different things to different people. For those who write non-fiction, this might be querying a publisher with a book idea. For those who have an idea for a book but haven’t put any time into developing it, it might just be to outline it and get the first chapter done. For some it’s to write a book a month, and for others it might be to write a million words during the year.

All of these goals are set with the idea of what they want to develop in the long run.

Journal Prompt

This is going to be a two-part prompt. We’re going to look at the big picture and then shrink it right on down to the smaller picture.

Step 1: What Do You Want?

Fun Fact: If you want to write 1,000,000 words in 2020

You only need to develop the

right writing habit.

It only take 2,740 words each

day to write 1,000,000 words

in 356 days.

If boundaries were not a thing and wishes were fulfilled as easily as taken a breath, what would you want for your writing?

Do you want to build a career? Do you want to publish? Do you want to create stories for  those who are close to you? Do you have a message to share?

Over the span of the next decade, what do you want to happen with your writing?

Spent ten minutes or more writing everything you want for your writing. Think big, think about a world without limits, and consider everything you would want. Again, give yourself at least ten minutes of constant writing. That means no pausing once you’ve stopped. Let that pen flow, even if it means writing “I don’t know” 14 times before you finally figure out what you do know.

Don’t think about what is practical, don’t think about what is feasible. Think only about what you want.

Step 2: Your Writing Goal

Now you’re going to make your writing goal for 2020. Look at everything you’ve just written. It is possible. You just have to make the right steps.

List out the steps you would need to take in order to get to where you want. Write them out in detail, break them down. If your first step is to write your first book, then what steps do you have to take to make that happen? Break everything down as much as you can.

Now, that you have this list, ask yourself what you think you can get done in the first year. This is the time to be practical. But, at the same time, you want to challenge yourself.

Running with the example of writing your first book, maybe you not only want to write it, but have it completely squeaky polished and ready to send off to publication, or ready for beta readers, or ready to self-publish by the end of 2020.

Or maybe you want to write a million words in 2020. You could write a million words, or, you could really challenge yourself and aim for two million (5480 words a day!).

Bonus Step

When you have fun, you’re promoting joy, and that is what’s going to carry you to your goals.  

When you have yourself a writing goal, break it down, step by step. What do you need to do to write your first book? What do you need to do to write a million words? For each of these steps, create a reward system.

On of my favorite podcast hosts, Sara Werner of the Write Now Podcast, likes to reward herself when she reached word-count goals during her writing sessions with an M&M.

I’ve rewarded myself with cups of coffee. When I’m really struggling to put words on the page, I’ve told myself that when I get to x point, then I can have another cup of coffee (though I do have the fine print that I have to have a pint of water before I have my coffee as well).

Your reward systems should line up with your goal. If it’s something small, have a little—but joyful—reward for yourself. If it’s something bigger, then have a bigger reward. For example, if one of your steps is to read three books on writing, then celebrate each book by purchasing a song download, and when you finish all three, purchase a full album. Or if you want to need to finish your outline, then celebrate by spending a day out doing something you love but rarely get to do.

When you have things to look forward to, then it makes achieving the steps along the way that much more fun. When you have fun, you’re promoting joy, and that is what’s going to carry you to your goals.  

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package. This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four.

This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Book Your Free 30-Minute Call

Fill out the form below to talk to me about your piece. This is about getting to know you and your work, and deciding if we make a good pair to get you through your project.

Sign up to my mailing list to receive a FREE 3-day mini course on planning and outlining tips to start your novel!

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December 11 Journal Prompt: First Quarter Season

What is your writing goal for the first quarter of 2020?

Yesterday we spent some time looking at what habits we can form during the first month of the year. Today we are going to look at how those habits can be implemented over the first quarter of 2020.

But we’re going to look at this a little bit differently than we did yesterday. Today, we’re going to look at the seasons, and we’re going to consider our personal seasons.

Learning Your Seasons

Rebecca Campbell, author of Rise Sister Rise and Light is the New Black, talks about personal seasons. Just like the planet, we experience times of fruitfulness and times of rest. There are times when we are productive and times when we just can’t begin to look at what to tackle.

And that’s okay.

Knowing how you function best is going to help you to be your best. Knowing yourself is going to be the key to the optimal you. Everyone needs to rest, and it’s good to know when your resting times are. These can happen monthly, daily, and annually.

For example, I, living in the northern hemisphere, discovered that I can get next to zero work done in the summer. I am highly productive in the winter and in the spring, but summer I go into my personal winter of work hibernation.

Does that mean I stop working altogether? Not at all. What it does mean is that I adjust my workload to accommodate my resting time.

Not all of us have this luxury—it’s one I have worked hard to cultivate, and I know that nothing is permanent. However, in terms of our goals for on-coming years, we can take these “winter” periods and adjust our goals to work around them. Likewise, we can adjust our goals to work around our energetic, “summer” periods.

Journal Prompt

Reflecting on Winter and Summer

Reflect over the last year and compare it to the year before, and the year before that. Do you recall when you were at the height of your energy each year? Do you remember when you struggled with your energy?

Spend some time journaling about the most productive times that you recall, and see if you can narrow it down to a time of the year, time of month, time of week, time of day. If you can’t pinpoint it, that’s alright. Perhaps you might want to make it a goal to pay attention this year to when your energy waxes and wanes.

If you’ve managed to do this, then we’re going to move on to the second part of the prompt: developing a first quarter goal.

Quarterly Goals

If you have an idea of how well you work during certain times or periods, then you can more readily make goals for the first quarter of the year.

If you find that your seasons line up nicely with the year, then you can consider spending the first part of the year gearing up for your more fruitful times. The first quarter should be a time of preparation, gathering momentum, and building to the “climax” of your year.

If you find that you’re more productive in the winter, or find that you have to be more productive in the winter (shout out to my SAD people!), then acknowledge that the first three months of 2020 will be preparing to take a little bit of a break during the summer to recharge your batteries.

Now look at how you function on a month. Campbell also mentions that she finds, as a women, she is more spiritually tuned in during her period, and thus will adjust her work schedule so that she can allow for lower-key days and meditation during that time. Some folks might find that they are more productive or less productive around a full or a new moon.

At the end of the day we are writers. As writers, we tap into out creative side which depending on who you talk to, is linked to our subconscious. Our subconscious is that deeper part of us that we allow to be expressed through our dreams and through our creative works. Thus, we may not know what rhythms our subconscious and our creative side might be aligned with, so we should explore every possibility.

Once you’ve spent some time considering how and when you work best, then you can begin setting your first quarterly goal. Consider the habits you want to form during the first month, and look at how they can contribute to a bigger goal for the first quarter.

Learning your own personal rhythms is going to be what sets you up for a successful year, and hopefully, a successful decade.

December Offer

January is a time of starting fresh, of setting up good habits to begin the new you.

Through December, to get excited and ready for January, I’m offering a Free 1-hour session in addition to any monthly package or the 6-month package.

This means that if you sign up for either of the monthly packages, you’ll get 5 sessions instead of four. This includes any of the additional bonuses included in the package. For example, if you sign up for the 6-month package, you will get an additional week of partial manuscript reading and critique.

This offer is only if you sign up for my packages through the month of December.

Don’t miss out starting your 2020 new year write.

Book Your Free 30-Minute Call

Fill out the form below to talk to me about your piece. This is about getting to know you and your work, and deciding if we make a good pair to get you through your project.