It’s that magical and dangerous time of year when I plan all my goals with the enthusiasm and ambition of a forgetful fish. I believe I can write a thousand books all while filming deeply engaging YouTube videos. Oh, and don’t forget raising my son.
I love the new year and all the possibilities it brings. I love imagining where I’ll be in a year. But it’s also a time when I overcommit and set myself up for failure.
In many ways, this year is no different. I have a lot of plans. Except I have a very important tool.
Finding the Right Motivation
Let me back up. I started doing Duolingo over the summer. Duolingo is a language-learning app. It’s really fun, and I highly recommend it. I’m learning Greek because it’s been on my list of places to visit for ages. One day I’ll get there. When I do, I’ll be able to say, “The coffee is pink,” in Greek. (I don’t know why that phrase keeps coming up in lessons. Maybe Greece is full of pink coffee? I hope to find out one day.)
I’ve done Duolingo for the last 148 days straight. I wish I could say that I’m super self-motivated, but that’s not why. The app sends me daily reminders to keep my streak going. That’s all I need to inspire me to do a lesson or two. I don’t want to break my streak. There’s something satisfying about watching the little counter on the app flip from 147 to 148 days. It shows I accomplished something. Even if that something was a five-minute Greek lesson.
So this year I’m channeling that motivation. I’m taking that desire to have a long streak and applying it to my writing. I made an elaborate spreadsheet. It could be argued that creating an elaborate spreadsheet took away precious writing time. But I’d argue that it will be an important tool for me this year.
Creating the Spreadsheet
I took all of my big goal projects for the year and gave them word count targets. I’ll admit, I started a couple of these projects last year. For the most part, they’re new projects.
I want to blog regularly here as well as post on Medium. I want to up my YouTube game. YouTube is a constant goal that I struggle with. I film videos and then talk myself out of posting them. It’s easy to overthink and convince myself that what I created doesn’t make sense or that people will hate it. Someone will probably hate it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t share it.
I made a tab for each month on the spreadsheet and put the projects across the top and the days along the side. I grayed out all the weekends. I want to take time off every now and then, even though I may write here and there on weekends.
I made monthly word count goals for each target and the spreadsheet calculates what percentage of each goal I’ve accomplished. I love the way it breaks down projects to give me clear targets.
Keeping an Open Mind
Every month I’ll reevaluate this system to see if it’s still working. I want to make sure the goals are still possible and the spreadsheet is still motivational instead of demoralizing. For now, I’m excited to see what the year holds and how many words I can write.
What are your goals this year? How do you track them? Please share in the comments below!
Every week I meet with my writing group. By the way, if you’re a writer, I highly recommend finding a weekly writing group. It’s a great way to anchor your week and motivate your writing.
On Monday afternoons, just hours before the group meets, I find myself sitting at the computer or pulling up a Google Doc on my phone and thinking, “Quick, I have to write something!”
Lately, I’ve been writing about my latest adventures with a baby or revelations about parenthood.
I’m trying to share my writing more often, which involves working through some fear of judgment and rejection. I’ve toyed with the idea of posting things on Medium for a while. Medium is a platform where anyone can post about any topic. It’s kind of like YouTube for writing.
I wish this blog post could be titled, “How I Made $100,000 on Medium,” but alas, I can’t make that claim (yet). So far, I’ve made less than a dollar…But I’m still really proud that I jumped in. I’ll keep writing and sharing. Hopefully one day I can post my roadmap to great success on Medium. Until then, I’ll enjoy the rollercoaster ride of parenthood.
It may be winter right now in Minnesota, but it’s warm and sunny in Hocus Hills.
A magical recipe for summer love…or disaster…
In the small, magical town of Hocus Hills, Susanna Daniels finally found a place that feels like home.
But dwindling tourism threatens the local businesses, including the pie shop where she works with her Aunt Erma. Luckily the biggest event of the season, the Fairy Light Festival is right around the corner, sparking hope among the residents. Instead of a wave of customers, Susie faces an overbearing Fairy Godmother, a critical travel writer, and her boyfriend’s father seems to dislike her before getting to know her.
To make matters worse, the whole town loses magic just before the big event. Can Susie save the town and her beloved pie shop before it is too late?
I loved writing about The Magic Pie Shop. I ate a lot of pie in the name of research. Now I’m really excited about my next project where my main character is a parking lot striper. It’s a job I’ve done for the last 20 years. I’ve still managed to work in some pie so I have a very valid excuse to keep eating delicious desserts!
What’s everyone reading and writing these days? Please share in the comments down below!
My baby is mobile now, and wow, can he move! I don’t think I fully appreciated how peaceful life was when he was stationary. But it’s been a fun adventure.
I’m working on some new projects, including picture books and a middle grade novel. I’ve taken a couple classes from an amazing teacher, Lisa M. Bolt Simons. I highly recommend taking a class with her if you’re interested in writing for kids. You can check out an upcoming one here. It’s through the Loft Literary Center. It meets on Zoom, so you don’t have to be in Minnesota to take it!
If you have any topics you want to see me cover in future videos or blog posts, please comment down below!
Also, if you’re a writer with young kids in your life – how do you get any writing done?
I used to get up in the morning, make my coffee, and sit down at the computer to write.
Then I had a baby.
Suddenly all illusions of a writing routine (or any routine for that matter) went out the window. He’s two months old now, and even though I’m still in a bit of a sleep-deprived haze, I’m finally feeling the itch to get back to writing.
So now I’m trying to find a loose sense of routine in the chaos. Whether you’ve had a baby or not, there are a lot of things that can stir up your schedule. Here are some of the things that have worked for me.
When I make plans and set goals, I often imagine myself to be Superwoman.
“I can do it all!” I tell myself as I make my to-do list for the next day. The next day comes and goes, and there are still a lot of unchecked boxes on my list.
I still sit down each night to make my to-do list for the next day, but I’ve significantly lowered my expectations. I eased back into writing by adding things to the list like, “Look at your book.” Just look at it. I didn’t have to write, edit, or read it. I just had to open the file and look at it.
Of course, I’d usually get sucked into writing a few words or editing a small section, but even if I didn’t, if I opened the file on my computer, I could check it off my list.
I have learned to do lots of things one-handed while I hold my son with the other.
Because of this, my phone gets a lot more use than my computer lately. I wrote a personal essay using voice to text on Google docs. Then I typed out part of a scene using my thumb to swipe text.
I still love to sit down at the computer but more and more I’m using other ways to get words on the page.
Find an Anchor
Days sometimes slide by in a blur. Is it Thursday? Sunday? Should I be writing? Sleeping? Figuring out how to get baby spit-up off every shirt I own? Did I write today or was that eight days ago?
It helps to have something on the schedule to anchor the week.
For me, my anchor is my weekly writing group. We meet for 90 minutes every Monday. That meeting motivates me to have something semi-completed so I can share, and I find hearing other people’s stories inspiring.
Let the Mind Wander
My baby drinks ten thousand bottles a day and each bottle has sixty-three pieces to wash. Or at least that’s what it feels like. When I’m washing those 630,000 bottle parts, I try to think about the stories I can write or ways to get my characters into or out of sticky situations.
I’ve also found that inventing random stories to tell my baby can get the creative juices flowing. The stories get stranger the more sleep-deprived I am. My favorite so far was the Adventures of Flakey the Snow Fairy.
Someday I expect we’ll get into a flexible routine, and I’ll be able to schedule my writing time again. Until then, I’ll squeeze in some words when I can and enjoy the easy smiles and cheerful baby chatter that fill my days.