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Plan Your Writing Year

Advanced tips for writers

Reasons to be cheerful

Ian Dury and his band mates wrote their hit 1979 song ‘Reasons to Be Cheerful Part 3‘ in their Italian hotel room after one of their roadies was almost killed by a dodgy microphone. Far from being a frivolous song, with a ‘cheer up it’s not all bad’ message, it’s a gratitude list, designed to cheer themselves up in the aftermath of a horrible event.

Why am I telling you this? Because in the face of everything that’s been going on recently, a list of ‘reasons to be cheerful’ could seem frivolous, inappropriate even, but I’m going to go out a limb and say that your own ‘reasons to be cheerful’ are more important than ever before, and one of those things is your writing.

In this post I’ll share two ways to feel great about your writing in 2021. In a moment, I’m going to tell you about a powerful (and proven) strategy that will change your approach to your writing life, one that’s quick and accessible, because all you really need is your brain, and five minutes, but first, the elephant in the room:

Everything’s so gloomy right now, should I be thinking about my writing?

It’s not true that absolutely everything is gloomy. You’ve still got stuff to be grateful for, and you’ve still got your writing, and your writing is important. If you want to know why, take a look at this blog post. In fact, it’s even more important than ever that you plan your writing so you end up working towards what you’ve actually decided you want – instead of what’s easy, or what someone else says you should write.

How do you feel about your writing?

Do this quick test. Think about your writing practice – not the finished product, but the actual doing of it – try to visualise it or think yourself back to the last time you did it. Or if you don’t have a writing habit, imagine what it would be like. Where would you be sitting? How would you be writing (pen and notebook, computer, tablet)? What are you working on? Once you’ve visualised or imagined yourself writing, tune in to how you feel. What’s the main feeling, if there are several? And what are you thinking? Or what’s the main thought?

This is a thought experiment, so it’s fine to do it all in your head, but if you like you can grab a notebook and record the results, which can be extremely powerful, because our brains are amazing.

How would you like to feel about your writing?

Here’s the second part of the test. Imagine yourself in January 2022. Again, visualise your writing practice or imagine it. Where are you? How are you writing? What are you working on? Once more, tune in to how you feel. What’s the main feeling? And what’s the main thought?

Now repeat the process for a third time. Imagine your writing has gone brilliantly in 2021. You’ve been turning up to write, you’ve made progress on your writing projects, you’ve put the time in. Imagine the results you’ve got, whether that’s turning up more often, or getting published regularly, or whatever success looks like to you. Again, imagine yourself writing in January 2022. What’s are you feeling? And what are you thinking?

One way to feel great about your writing in 2021 is to repeat part three of this visualisation process as often as possible, creating the scene in as much detail as you can. If you’re unable to visualise it, write a description of the scene, adding your thoughts and feelings. Use this quick technique often – it really does work wonders. (By the way, I said this was a proven technique, and here’s a summary of the research study that proved it. It was carried out by the University of Chicago on basketball players.)

So if visualisation is one way to feel great about your writing in 2021, what’s the other? (Drum roll.) It’s deliberate planning!

What is deliberate planning?

The word ‘deliberate’ is borrowed from a term used by psychologist Anders Ericsson: ‘deliberate practice’. You can read more about it in his book Peak. ‘Deliberate practice’ implies that we deliberately take something we need to work on and find strategies that will enable us to do that – seeking help can be one of them – rather than simply writing anything. So I’ve decided that ‘deliberate planning‘ means you plan to work on writing that fits with your values and how you see your life unfolding, rather than simply planning to write (in a general way) around tasks that are already in your life.

A quick note on values. If you’d like help identifying your own personal values, here’s a list¬† created by writer James Clear, with a simple exercise included at the start.

Feel great about your writing in 2021

What if you could feel super-organised about your writing in 2021? What if you could set writing goals that you feel great about and know are achievable? I’m here to tell you that it IS possible for you to set writing goals and get organised this year, it’s simply a matter of learning how to do it and putting systems in place to keep track.

Here’s something writers are seldom taught, but which works wonders: make your writing goals measurable. I’ve come up with a list of five ways to measure or quantify your writing goals:

  1. Time spent
  2. Words written
  3. Publications achieved
  4. Money earned
  5. Return on investment

There is nothing icky about making your writing goals measurable, you’ve simply got to find the right measurability tool for your goal. By the way, before you can measure by any of these, you need to turn up – and ‘turning up’ is also something you could measure. Imagine it in position zero on the above list.

A powerful step-by-step process

If you’d like to know more about the process, this is for you. I’ve created a masterclass where you can go in deep on how to create measurable and achievable writing goals for 2021 and get your writing year planned. You’ll learn how to quantify your writing goals in the way that’s best for you. It comes with 50 minutes of video and a workbook to complete that will guide you through a powerful step-by-step process.¬† Follow this link to see a preview. It’s priced at $49 but for the rest of January you can get your hands on it for only $29. For now, here’s 30 sec clip of me talking about the masterclass.

So how do you make your writing goals measurable?

Try this. Spend 5 minutes getting in touch with what it is you really want to achieve with your writing this year, then make a note of the results. Go and have a cup of tea, or take a break. Come back to your notes later – the pondering time is important – and turn your notes into a specific goal. Now, how will you measure this goal? How will you know if you’ve achieved it? Which of the big 5 ways of measuring, listed above, will you use?

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Louise

 

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