As we move through the year, it's time to assess your writing goals.
Whether you are just setting them now, or reviewing those you set prior to today, keeping your goals front and center will help you succeed.
What have you accomplished this past year?
What remains to be done?
For some, the last year was an amazing journey. For others, it was a daily struggle. Regardless of your situation, we have reached the time of year to look forward. To set writing goals for the coming year.
This year, let's do something a little different. Rather than setting big, hairy, audacious goals, goals that set us up for failure and disappointment, let's try another approach.
Let's take a kaizen approach to writing.
Kaizen is a methodology originally developed in the U.S. at the beginning of WWII and adopted by post-war Japan, where it was given its name.
It refers to the process of making continuous small improvements rather than conducting large overhauls.
How does kaizen apply to writing?
In my own life, I am known for grand plans and huge (I mean HUGE) goals. Of course, most of these goals fall to the wayside well before the year ends.
Come the next year, I find myself feeling discouraged. Even my writing falls victim to the "large overhaul" mentality.
Let me give you an example.
I might set a goal of writing 1,000 words per day, five days per week. Not a huge goal, right?
Well, consider that I work a 40 hour week, attend college full time, have a family and sometimes a social life. Yeah. That 1,000 words just had a growth spurt.
This year, instead of setting such a large goal, I am using the kaizen approach. I start by asking myself:
What is one small thing I can do or change to improve my writing life?
One answer that comes to mind is that I can get up five minutes earlier each morning. I can spend that time writing. It can be morning pages.
Or, I can reclaim that time at the end of each day. But I have to spend those five minutes with my behind in the chair and fingers on the keyboard.
Think about it. If you set a timer for five minutes and freewrite the entire time, you will generate 300-500 words. That's a respectable online article. Or the start of an essay.
Sure, it will need work, but five minutes got you a long way, didn't it?
The great thing about using such small steps is that they are doable. We can almost all find five minutes in our day.
As I master this first small step, I have a sense of accomplishment as I move on to the next small step.
To figure out the next small step, I simply ask the same question and decide on the answer. This is the essence of kaizen.
My plan is to give each small step 30 days to take hold. Or one calendar month. Imagine for a moment that you decide to spend five minutes each day writing. After the first month, you tack on another five. And so on throughout the year.
By December, you will be dedicating an hour a day to your writing. And it would occur painlessly. Gradually.
So, ask yourself: What small change can I make to improve my writing life? When you figure out the answer, implement it.
Keep it small. Easy. No big commitments. No hassle. No struggle. Just a little baby step toward a bigger goal.
Big change occurs in small increments. Let's commit to start with small writing goals today and accomplish big things in the next year.
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