Time to Spring Clean Your Writing!

Sunday, May 20, 2012
It’s that time of year again where we clean up the clutter, get rid of all the mess and dirt collected over the winter months and re-organize. I see it as the perfect opportunity to let go of the old and bring in the new, similar to what we do at the beginning of a New Year.

At the start of another year, we try making new goals for ourselves. By this time of year, we should be checking in to see whether we’re on our way to meeting those goals or if we need to change/restructure them. It’s what I call, “Spring Cleaning My Writing”, and usually involves asking myself the following questions:

What were my long and short-term goals at the beginning of the year? The place to start is checking on what your writing goals were at the start of the year. Have any of them been crossed off? How close are you to meeting each goal? Have you started on any of your long-term goals? Doing this will give you an idea of how to, or even if, to move forward with what you’ve set.

Why did I set these goals? You might have been in a different place along your writing journey at the beginning of the year, which is why you set the goals you did. But things might have changed, either in what your focuses are or in your personal life that might have moved you on a different path. Ask yourself why you set those goals and if they still pertain to what you want to do.

What is my writing focus now? The next logical question to ask yourself is what your focus is now. Is your end goal the same now that it was then? Will the goals you’ve set get you to that end goal? Whether you want to be splashed in the pages of a top-selling glossy magazine or see the novel you’re writing on the bookshelves, make sure your focus is the same. If it’s not, then you’ll need to change a few of your goals to suit your new focus.

Do any of my old goals fit into my current focus? Just like I said above, this is the time to get rid of the dust and clear out the cobwebs. With your current focus in your vision, you now have to determine if those goals are helping or hindering your progress. Take a good look at each of your goals and decide whether to keep, clean up then keep or simply chuck out a goal.

What’s going on around me right now and in the near future? This is a step I often forget to factor in when creating my goals. You need to remember the non-writing goals you have when creating your writing ones because the two don’t always coincide. For example, my kids will all be finished school by the end of June so most of my daytime writing will be gone having them all at home. Therefore, it’s wiser for me to make a bunch of smaller goals from now until the fall when my kids go back to school so I don’t get frustrated or overwhelmed. It’s better to have a few smaller goals or baby step goals leading to a larger one than to cram too much on your pile.

At this point, I re-write my goals with the mental promise to check in with my list again for my next big clean up in the fall. Doing this helps keep me on track, organized and inspired. Of course, life isn’t always predictable and can throw a monkey wrench at us even with a solid plan in place. But doing a little Spring Cleaning in our writing is a great way to keep us moving forward.

Feel free to share your own ways to ‘clean up’ your writing and writing goals.

Happy writing!


Nichole L. Reber said...

A lot of us writers forget about the 'what's going on around me now' idea. That leads to our getting frustrated, as you indicated, that we're not edging toward our goals and eventually it leads to our neglecting them in toto.

This year, thanks to participating in a few consecutive months of challenges like NaNoWriMo, I discovered monthly goals. That lead to annual goals. When my job became a huge monkey wrench, I initially got frustrated. Then I learned to focus toward something specific rather than have a bunch of singular goals. That, ironically, brought everything together. Yay!

Please repost this each season. It can be of such help to many writers, even those who lose their ways.

Cheers and luck to anyone else who benefits from this post!

Chynna said...

Good for you, Nichole! Events like NaNoWriMo can be very good for helping to set goals! (I participated too! YAY!)

I so appreciate your comments and suggestion and, as you mentioned, I think it would be a good idea to put the reminder in to do the writing spring cleaning. Thanks, and good luck. Keep us posted, okay?

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Excellent advice. It is a good idea to re-evaluate your goals around this time of year, something I was thinking about the other day, in fact. Thanks for the post.

LuAnn Schindler said...

I like to re-evaluate my writing goals, but for me, it needs to be more than a seasonal thing. I tend to do it monthly so I stay on track. Bottom line - all writers should take a look at goals set, where they've been and how they'll proceed. :)

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