Writing a book is a pretty lofty goal. It’s not lofty because it’s impossible, but because it requires so much time and commitment. Writing a book is like running a marathon. You can say you are going to run it all you want, but if you don’t spend months putting your feet to the pavement then the day of the marathon will arrive and you will fall flat on your face. The bottom line is you have to show up everyday with a willingness to be beaten down by the words. You have to be okay with having horrible days where you feel like a failure and amazing days where you write several chapters. Then, you have to be willing to go through that entire process again and again in revisions. Then, you have to throw your work to the wolves and try to find someone to publish it so people can read it and be excruciatingly honest about what they think. The entire process feels an awful lot like selling your soul and if you don’t WANT IT, really really want it, then it will never happen for you. That’s the harsh truth.
Now, for the silver lining: It isn’t impossible!
Remember when I said writing a book is like a marathon? What does any good marathoner need during their training? A good plan! All you need to help you write (or accomplish any lofty goal) is a good plan. Now, I’m still working on my first book, but if there’s anything I learned during my four years in college, it’s how to accomplish an insane amount of work in a seemingly impossible amount of time. There are three easy steps:
1) Write it out
This may seem like a silly or useless step, but writing out what needs to get done can take your mountain and turn it into a mole hill. Especially with a big project, the amount of steps necessary to complete it can swirl around in your head and feel impossible, but writing down what you need to do in a series of steps can make the entire thing seem much more doable. Making a list allows you to physically see each step and to focus on finishing one step at a time rather than a huge jumble.
My first step towards writing my novel was to finish my first draft in three months (by the end of January 2016). So, for the entire time I’m working on my first draft, I don’t pay attention to any of the other steps. This allows me to clear my head of the clutter and make more room for the task at hand.
2) Track your progress
This is another small, yet important step. When taking on a huge project or goal, it is very easy to overlook the small steps you are taking towards completing your project and begin to feel discouraged. For instance, when I have a 60,000 word first draft to complete, having a 500 word writing day may not feel like an achievement. However, I made time in my day, sat down, and wrote. That’s an achievement! I didn’t give up when the words didn’t come easily, and I powered through another day.
Make sure you celebrate the small wins and not just the “Big Win.” Whether it is ceremoniously crossing an item off of your list, eating fro-yo for dinner, or making a post on Facebook, acknowledge the small steps you take towards completing whatever goal you are trying to accomplish.
3) Find Your Motivation
Now, this is a key step. You have to find what your motivation is. Whether you are trying to lose weight, learn a new language, or write a book, you have to know why you are doing it, or you aren’t going to succeed.
Let’s say you decide to learn a new language because you think it will be fun. If “fun” is your only motivation, then as soon as the task stops being fun, you will quit. The same thing goes for working out or writing a book. You have to have a genuine desire to better yourself and complete your task, or you are going to jump off the wagon at the first bump in the road. For me, my motivation comes from wanting to see my writing in print and hold a hardback book with my name on it in my hands. If my motivation was to impress the people who were mean to me in high school, or to make a lot of money, then I’d find an easier, more lucrative career to accomplish those goals. You have to truly want what you are striving for, or you’ll grow tired of striving.
There you have it, my three steps to success! I fail at following all three of these often, but I stand behind them and I’m really working to get better.
What goal are you trying to accomplish and what steps are you taking to reach it? Let me know in the comments!