December 19

How to make sure you finish that writing project in 2015

    How to make sure that you finish that

    The New Year is approaching, and I often find myself looking back at the things I thought I was going to accomplish the previous year but didn’t – the podcast I didn’t start, the trip I didn’t take, the writing projects I didn’t even draft… Oh, yes, we all have those regrets, usually accompanied by a resolution: “This year, I’m going to do all of those things.”

    The New Year can be especially overwhelming if there are several writing projects that you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t – yes, the book, but also a few short articles for journals, a slew of blog posts, and maybe the memoir you’ve been mulling over. If you’re anything like me, in your enthusiasm to make this year count, you write a list of all the writing projects you are absolutely going to do this year.

    Can I recommend a different strategy?

    Pick one writing project.

    It doesn’t matter how long or short the writing project is, but pick the one that is most often on the forefront of your mind, the one that nags you at odd moments during the day, the one that you feel the most energy around.

    Pick that one writing project and visualize what it would be like to finish it. When I say “visualize,” I mean mentally put yourself in that space of having finished the writing project. What does it feel like? What kind of impact is the project having on your life? On others’ lives? What is now possible because you have finished? Soak in these visualizations. Write them down. Steep in what would be possible.

    Write one sentence that describes all of the positive emotions around finishing this one writing project. Post that one sentence above your writing space.

    Then, decide how many hours per week you can write.

    I recommend that you attempt to finish this project as quickly as possible in 2015. Push yourself to the limit. Give yourself a challenging goal.

    Think about how many hours you can write per week. If you say you can’t possibly fit in more than 1 hour a week, I’d call you out and say to look at your schedule again. Aim for at least 3-5 hours per week, devoted to this one writing project.

    Then, look at how many words your project might be and how many hours of writing time you should expect to schedule. Here are some guidelines:

    Blog posts. Since posts are only around 1,000 words each, I would push you to write 12 posts as your “one project.” That would be 12,000 words, and you’d be able to schedule once-a-week posts for the next 3 months. That would be awesome. Budget 25-30 hours of writing time.

    Journal articles. 12,000-15,000 words. Budget 30-40 hours of writing time (assuming most of the back-end research is done; otherwise, schedule twice as many hours).

    E-books. 15,000-25,000 words. Budget 50 hours of writing time.

    Full-length books. 50,000-75,000 words. Budget 100-120 hours of writing time.

    Work backward and create a timeline.

    So, you can write 5 hours per week, and you want to write an e-book. If it’s on the long end (25,000 words), you should push yourself to finish the writing project in 10 weeks. If you start January 1, that would be an e-book draft completed by March 12.

    Sounds pretty amazing, right?

    I’d say, yes, and it should sound totally doable.

    Why only one project?

    If you’re the ambitious type, I can hear you already, “At that pace, I could knock out 5 e-books in one year!”

    Hold your horses.

    Finishing the one project will definitely give you momentum, but you won’t necessarily be able to sustain the pace for the entire year. You run the risk of setting goals to finish too many projects in one year and feeling constantly frustrated because you aren’t making the progress you need to finish all of them. What’s more important is to finish at least one major project before the year gets away from you.

    Choosing only one project to focus on forces you to prioritize. If you imagine finishing only one project, you will naturally choose the one that is most important to you, either personally or professionally. Limiting your scope helps you gain clarity on what project needs to happen first.

    There’s no greater place to be at the beginning of the year than focused on one, high-priority project with a challenging timeline. That’s all you really need to set yourself up for a productive year.

    Need help pushing yourself to write your one, most important project in 2015? My greatest passion is coaching authors to write with confidence and clarity, and sticking to the schedule they’ve set for themselves. Interested in what it could be like to work with a writing coach? Hop over to the writing coach page.

    In the meantime,
    Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!


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