I saw this trending tweet hashtag (#MondayMotivation) on Twitter this morning, and it was geared toward office types, but I’m on vacation from my desk job this week and thought I could stand a little push as an author—and maybe my fellow authors could stand that as well. So here are my five tasks for myself and fellow authors to help us get a great start on our writing this week. Good luck!
- Set a writing goal. But don’t just set a goal for today. Experts will tell you that a combination of short-term and long-term goals work well. I work best when I set a daily goal, weekly goal, and a project goal. If I consistently fall behind on reaching my goals, I’ll reassess them, but you have to start somewhere! Make yourself stretch a little bit toward your goal, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Your goal should be doable. And sometimes you don’t know exactly what’s doable until you set that big goal!
- Set a marketing goal. This one’s always tough for me, because every time I think I’ve figured marketing out, I find out I’m dead wrong. Again. That said, I’m constantly researching and also finding new opportunities. If you’ve got marketing in the bag, great! Simply set some kind of goal for yourself in regard to the topic, but if not, stretch yourself. Figure out one thing you can do this week that will make you smarter about marketing—or potentially pay off big in the long run. This goal can be purchasing a book on marketing or investing a little money in an advertising opportunity so you can see if it’s worth the cost.
- Evaluate and then cut your social media time. This is a biggie for me. A couple of years ago, social media were an inexpensive (even if time consuming) way to interact with readers and promote upcoming works. With changes in algorithms and creating pay-for-display promotional opportunities, most social media have made it hard for authors to get the word out there—even when they’re willing to pay for exposure. Advertising opportunities aside, readers will read your work because there is work to read. If you’re spending all your time on Facebook writing about the croissant and coffee you just enjoyed instead of hammering out the next chapter in your book, you’ll want to evaluate just how helpful that social media is in the grand scheme of things. Set aside a certain amount of time you allow yourself to interact on those media—and then close those browser windows, roll up your sleeves, and get to writing your next novel!
- Invest time in your craft. If you’ve never read a creative writing book or even just a book about writing, I’d like to ask, “Why not?” As a former writing teacher, I can’t tell you how many students wanted to write great pieces right off the bat but were unwilling to read anything, whether about the craft or something else. Set aside time to study the craft and improve your work in the process. There are plenty of free materials out there as well as actual books, but I’d set aside at least two hours a week (preferably more) dedicated to improving yourself as an author. Investing in yourself is always worth the cost. Instead of watching SOA reruns…read about how to make your dialogue more believable. If you feel like you’ve read enough about the craft to be able to teach it yourself, then read something else, whether fiction or nonfiction. Everything you read will influence you as a writer—if it’s something good, your brain will remember a technique and possibly utilize it in the future. If it’s bad…your brain will make a mental note and help you avoid what didn’t work. Either way, reading will make you a better writer.
- Clean up your workspace. When you’re focused on your writing goal, it’s easy to let your workspace become cluttered. I’m bad about that. An empty coffee cup, tissues, napkins, and the like clutter my space, although I typically clean all that up daily. Instead, though, in regard to long-term clutter, you’ll find mail (both unopened and opened), promotional materials, magazines, books, mailing labels, rolls of clear packing tape, big envelopes, and lots of other JUNK strewn everywhere in my little office space. When I clean it all up and put it in its place, I feel so much better. My mind seems clearer. Maybe cleaning up your area will work the same way for you. Give it a shot. At the very least, clean up your workspace when you’ve finished for the day. If you tend to write until you’re ready to crawl into bed half asleep, then do it an hour or so before you think you’re going to poop out.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Time to get to work! Happy writing!