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Your Writing Plan for 2021 (part two)

Advanced tips for writers

Quick recap

In my last post I was talking about how you plan your writing goals for 2021. If you’ve been following along, so far you’ve come up with a specific writing goal and you’ve added some of the stages to a calendar or planner. If you missed the previous post, you can read it here.

Break the goal down into small steps

The next stage is to take your writing goal and to break it down into small steps. Imagine you are going to start working on the goal on 1st January 2021, what’s the first thing you’re going to do? Make it as small and specific an action as possible.

Here are some examples of small steps

On 1st January, I’m going to:

  • set up my workspace.
  • brainstorm my ideas.
  • read a book on structuring a novel.
  • enquire about my local writing group.

You’ll notice that you don’t need a lot of time or specialist knowledge to take action on the above small steps. It’s also easy to tell whether you’ve completed step. That’s the idea. Once you’ve completed your first set of small steps, decide on the next small steps you will take. Grab your diary or planner or calendar and schedule these steps over the next few weeks.

What if I want to set a goal that’s way outside my comfort zone?

Last time I suggested that you go beyond your comfort zone but not so far outside it that the goal freaks you out. But maybe you want to complete a writing project – a novel, a screenplay, a memoir, a poetry collection – the idea of it is frankly terrifying, and you’re willing to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. If that’s you, then I suggest writing down your scary goal and then breaking it into slightly smaller goals. The first of these can be pretty close to what you’re comfortable with. Break this goal down into small actionable and specific steps. Forget about the scary goal and focus only on one of your slightly smaller goals at a time – and its related small steps. Once the first smaller goal on your list is complete, move onto the next one.

Scary goal example

Here is an example of how to break down a scary goal. Scary to one writer is easy to another of course, so this is simply for illustration purposes, and remember that the small steps will be unique to each person.

Scary goal: Submit my screenplay to an agent

Slightly smaller goals:

  1. Finish my screenplay.
  2. Apply for mentoring scheme or join writing group.
  3. Rewrite screenplay.
  4. Send screenplay submission package to writing group for feedback.
  5. Research and draw up a shortlist of agents before sending submission.

You can see that once you’ve worked your way through these slightly smaller goals, submitting the screenplay to an agent is going to feel like the logical next step, even if it still feels scary.

How to break a slightly smaller goal into small steps

Write out the first of your slightly smaller goals and come up with specific and actionable steps – small enough that you could take them today if you wanted to – that will move you towards the goal somehow. Here’s the screenplay example again.

First goal: Finish my screenplay. (And forget about the rest of the process for now.)

Small steps I could accomplish today:

  • Locate and read my draft script.
  • Make notes on how I could end my script.
  • Enroll in a screenwriting class.
  • Read online articles about structuring a screenplay

What’s next?

So now you know what your goal is, you’ve created some signposts, and you’ve broken it down into small steps, what’s next? I’m glad you asked! Because I’m putting the finishing touches on an exciting new course to help writers plan 2021 and before I hit publish, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions. It will only take a couple of minutes to answer them and all answers will be confidential. Thank you in advance!

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