The writers I know like to set lofty writing goals as their New Year’s resolutions. You have probably set some 2019 writing goals as well. Perhaps you want to write more words this year. Maybe you want to complete that novel. Maybe you want to hone in your academic writing style. All great goals. But the most important goal I think any writer can set at the beginning of 2019 is to focus on their best qualities and on highlighting those qualities in their work.
In my writing classes and as a writing tutor I have two main goals:
- To identify students writing weaknesses and help him to conquer them
- To identify their writing strengths and to celebrate them
In my experience accomplishing the first goal is impossible unless I also accomplish the first goal. Writers need to be able to recognize, highlight, and repeat their strengths in their future projects.
Recognizing what you do well not only helps you do the same thing in the future, it also helps you fine-tune your ability to recognize what you aren’t doing well. Two birds, one stone and all that, but with focus on the positive instead of the negative.
If we focus too much on the negative, the things that we need to change or improve, it’s easy to lose confidence, to fall prey to unrelenting pessimism, to believe the lie we all say at one point or another: I’m just not a good writer.
When you focus only on what is wrong to the exclusion of everything else, you lose any and all perspective.
Don’t let it happen to you.
Here’s how to create a list of writing goals for 2019 that accents the positive, and in the process, helps you banish your weaknesses as well.
Brainstorm about what you do well
Take a few minutes, hours, or days this week to list your strengths. What do you do well? Are you a dialogue master? Are your romances the swoon-iest? Can you hook your audience with a single sentence? Write it all down. You can even pull examples from your previous work–proof of your awesomeness.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not great at plot or still struggle with commas and sentence fragments. Push that to the side for now.
Got that list of strengths? Great! Put it on your wall or make the file easily accessible on all your digital devices.
Create concrete tasks that highlight your strengths
Schedule some time every day to do those things you’re good at.
If you’re good at them, you probably enjoy them, which means you’ll have fun. Besides, if you’re having a bummer of a writing session, switching gears to focus on a task where you excel will buoy your spirits and give you the momentum to continue.
Return to positives each work session, each day
You’re now spending time doing stuff you’re good at each day, building your confidence and learning how to recognize what you do right so you can do it more often. But when are you doing this positive work? At the beginning of the day? In the middle?
May I suggest focusing on your strengths at the end of each day?
I know having a victory at the end of the day helps me sleep better and return to my work rejuvenated each morning, ready to face my weaknesses and conquer them.
Make time to investigate your writing weaknesses
Yeah, ya gotta do it. I know, it sucks, but it really can’t be avoided. While focusing on your strengths can improve your spirits, keep you motivated, and show you what good writing looks like, it’s still necessary to confront your writing weaknesses. Without this crucial step, you’ll never turn them into strengths.
Create concrete tasks to strengthen those weaknesses
Once you know what your writing weaknesses are, you can attack them! Plot against them and take. them. down.
Not really. I’m not condoning violence, even toward your writing weaknesses.
You’ll actually put on your coach hat and put your weaknesses through their paces, exercising them in order to make them stronger.
When I began writing my first novel, I was a HORRIBLE plotter. I knew it. Everyone knew it. Know what I did about it? Bought every book on plot, read all the informative articles, talked to plotting experts, took a boot camp through Writer’s Digest.
Now I think of plot as a strength.
But don’t forget your writing strengths
After a long day or week of grappling with your weaknesses, working them out until they sweat just to make yourself a little bit stronger, a little bit better, take a rest. Pinpoint what you do well, celebrate it, try to repeat it in everything else you do.
Highlighting your strengths will keep you moving forward in 2019.
What are your writing goals for 2019 and how do you plan to stay motivated?