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3 Daily Goals to Make Your 2024 Writing Successful

If you’re like most people, our New Year’s resolutions, whether related to writing or the rest of our lives, are already wobbly. By the 2nd Friday in January, known as Quitter’s Day, 81% of people will give up on their resolution. Why? Because often lofty goals are picked, without the heart behind them to make be successful. Check out this post for some tips on surviving Quitter’s Day and making resolutions that last.

As writer’s, we have extra obligations piled into our busy lives, in addition to any resolutions we make about our writing. I often hear how writer’s end up not finding the time to write and giving up on projects. If you’d like to combine the opportunity to develop meaningful New Year’s Resolutions with developing a writing plan for a successful 2024, here are a few tips to get you on the right track:

3 Daily Goals

Instead of picking a single resolution that may be too big or bold, I recommend resolving to include 3 meaningful daily goals into each day of 2024:

  • One for yourself
  • One for writing
  • One for someone else
Darkened silhouette of a woman standing in the evning on a pier at sunset, her arms spread out in joy, her long hair flowing behind her.

For yourself

Constantly doing chores or tasks for others (work, home, etc) is draining. We are, after all, only human. We need some personal gratification to make life enjoyable. It’s important to pick one thing to do for yourself every day. It can be the same thing daily, or something different each day. But make sure to schedule it early in the day, if possible, so it doesn’t get relegated to an “undone” list for the day.

  • Add “Me” to your daily list
red pen laying on a typed page with editing notes in red ink

Before I start my laundry or editing, I write out my ‘to do’ list for the day. I began this habit as an ICU pharmacist. With over 50 ICU premies and sick babies to care for daily, a list of the most important tasks was the only way to be sure nothing got forgotten. Now, I use that same concept for my home life. I have the traditional task categories (writing, chores, work, etc), but now I also start the list with a new category: ‘For me.’ Today, it may be a long run to clear my head and help toward weight loss. Or it may some dedicated quiet reading time (even just 20 min).

Woman with long brown hair and blue blouse looking thoughtful with a large question mark near her head

Sometimes I have to be creative to fit “me” into my day. For example, it’s very possible that, on more than one occasion, I’ve sat in the parking lot reading a fiction novel for 20 minutes, before coming home to unload the groceries.

  • “Me” first

Over the years, I have found that if I don’t take care of myself first thing in the morning, everything else will take priority, until, at the end of the day, I’m too tired or out of time for myself. So, even if I have to get up 20 minutes early to take “me time,” I make that a priority. It’s not selfish! It makes me a better person all day.

  • Highlight the “have to’s”

My lists always have a million things on them to do each day. And they never all get done, which can be defeating. It helps to circle the “tackle these first” items to prioritize a few. Make the “For me” category one of those! If you prioritize, you’re more likely to feel accomplished at the end of the day if you finish the circled items, compared to just tackling your list randomly.

Not sure what to do for yourself? See this post on how to recharge yourself to get a few ideas.

For writing:

Cover of The Grim Reader by Miffie Seideman

Time management for successful writing is so important. In 2023, I learned this first hand, as the publication deadlines for The Grim Reader were barreling at me. From editing my manuscript on a tight deadline, to addressing the copyedits (also on a deadline), to preparing the index for my manuscript (a crazy story for another day), I could have spent several weeks on just one of these tasks alone. After a few overly-full and exhaustive weeks (and noticing the piles of laundry were not miraculously getting done on their own), I was forced into adopting tighter time management habits.

It must’ve worked, because not only did I survive finishing all the laundry while editing, but I’m ecstatic to say that The Grim Reader is already on pre-order through both my publisher and Amazon, and is slated to come out January 16th!

Below are a few tips that I found helpful in the middle of my editing craze.

a clear hourglass with red fine sand flowing from the top to the bottom and landing on a growing pyramid of red sand in the bottom

1. Getting Time Management Under Control

  • Procrastination
    • Whether it’s from stress or self-doubt, procrastination can end up as self-punishment in the end. Most of us are guilty of it at some level. Procrastination can eat up a huge amount of valuable time. If you really want to finish your manuscript (and manage all your time better), controlling procrastination is imperative.
  • Assessing self-defeating behaviors:
    • First, take a moment to understand procrastination, and why it’s not a self-control problem, with this quick-read.
    • You’ll need to honestly assess the tasks you fill your time with. Determine which are due to procrasination or avoidance behaviors and which are just time wasters. Be brutally honest. Some questions you can ask as yourself include:
      • Is scrolling social media really going to help with your book?
        • Consider focusing on developing real writing connections through writers groups, such as at a convention or through local groups at libraries or on MeetUp. These people will actually beta read your work and may have better connections for you than any “friend” on social media.
      • Is that post going to garner you any connections, sales, or insight? Is there a better way to allocate the time you were reading or writing that post?
      • Will listing out every. single. characteristic. of your protagonist make your story better? Or is it another way to avoid writing the next scene?
      • Are you finding yourself still scrolling 30 minutes after telling yourself you would just look at one more post?
      • And, my personal favorite…did the bathroom floor need to be scrubbed…again?
Cartoon silouhette of a woman in a dress and heels vacuuming the floor
  • Use time monitors to help you:
    • Time blocking methods
      • These techniques can be valuable for planning how to use your precious time.
    • Screen Time Monitors
      • Many phones have the ability to notify you after you’ve exceeded a pre-determined number of minutes on various apps. For example, if you want to keep yourself from getting lost in Facebook for more than 1 hour a day, program your phone to pop-up a notice when you’ve reached 60 minutes on the app.
        • Check your phone for this option (for example, here are iPhone instructions) or
        • Download an app that will function similarly, as reviewed in this USA Today article.

2. Task Exhaustion

Did you know that overcommitment and exhaustion are related to cardiovascular disease, not to mention other negative impacts of stress, both physically and mentally? Doing more doesn’t mean doing better, at all. In fact, you can end up doing less! Imagine being so exhausted that the more you do, the slowerr you go, and the less you end up doing in the end. There is even a name for this effect: The Law of Diminishing Returns. You can read about the concept here.

I learned this first hand during the edits for The Grim Reader. I loved being able to edit my vision.

But I also overdid it!

Man grabbing his head in front of a computer from writing frustration

With 16 hour days behind the computer, then expecting myself to fully embrace all my other life responsibilities, while neglecting much needed sleep, the words “work-life balance” weren’t even in my vocabulary.

Did I make my deadlines? Sort of. My wonderful agent, Amy Collins, was able to negotiate some important deadline extensions (I didn’t even know those were possible!). But I waited too late to ask about extensions and by the time I did, I was mentally and physically fried. For every hour I edited, my page count became slower and slower. And there was still the laundry…

And yes, I did have to ask for a second extension.

  • Assessing and Fixing Overcommitment

One of the first steps to avoiding task exhaustion is honestly assessing your commitments and making plans to correct your own behavior. Here‘s a great article from Psychology Today to walk you through those steps.

3. Succesfully Planning Writing Time

After you’ve reassessed your stresses, overcomittment, and procrastination behaviors, you should focus on how to make time for writing.

  • Find time
    • How much time can you reasonably write every day?
    • Does something else need to be removed from your commitments to make time for writing?
    • Where and how can you maximize your writing time? (For example, I write on my iNotes while in line at the grocery store, then upload it to my documents.)
  • Pick a goal
    • Some writer’s choose a daily word count goal, but that has never worked for me. I prefer writing in scenes or sections.
      • For The Grim Reader, for example, my chapter sections deailing with fentanyl is broken down as follows:
        • Fentanyl
          • Brief History/Social Context
          • Slang terms
          • Weaving the plot
            • How is it used?
              • Now you try it
                • Writing Prompts
            • How will my character act or feel?
              • Now you try it
                • Writing Prompts
            • How long will this drug effect my character?
          • Putting it all together
            • Sample scenarios
            • Now you try it
              • Writing Prompts
        • I would choose one section, such as “Now You Try It,” to complete in a single writing session. This allowed me to develop quality content to help writers practice putting their own characters in peril.
        • The same process applies when I’m writing my fantasy fiction. I focus on a single scene for a writing session. Instead of worrying about hitting a word count, I can end my writing time feeling accomplished if I’ve made good progress on that scene.
    • Other writers use this method, as well. Check out this post from the award winning blog at Writers in the Storm on story quilting.

For Others:

We all have obligations. But if we only focus on others all the time, we leave nothing for ourselves except exhaustion. If we’ve taken care of ourselves along the way (such as in the steps above), we can find the heart, compassion, and time to continue helping others.

To that end, I try to write down one thing I will do each day, beyond my basic obligations, for someone other than myself, such as:

  • Beta read a paragraph for a writer at the local group meeting, or
  • Make an effort to listen to the store cashier, instead of rushing out of line, or
  • Check on the neighbor down the street that lives alone- even if it’s just a text to say “hi” and see how she’s doing, or
  • Check on one of my triathlete trainees that hasn’t come to practice to see if there are any barriers I can with, or…

Not only do these brief moments cost me little in my busy day, but they give back to me immeasurably, through the smiles or the network of friends that will support me on tough days. Sometimes, the outcomes of these little interactions rejuvenate me for the next day.

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group

I hope this post has helped you take a few measured steps to convert your potentailly ailing New Year’s Resolution into a goal that will more positively impact your lifestyle (and your writing time).

If part of your new daily goal is to maximize interaction with other writers, consider connecting with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group– writers willing to share their journey, their angst, and writing tips. Consider joining in on the monthly blog hop (links below), where authors may choose to either answer this month’s question or post another article of interest (as in my case this month).

To get you started, check out this month’s blog co-hosts: Joylene Nowell Butler, Olga Godim, Diedre Knight, and Natalie Aguirre. Leave a comment for them and meet new writerly firends.

Happy Writing!

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