Here I am, penning a freelance writing "how-to" article, and my advice to you is "write it down."
"No shit, Sherlock," says you.
But I'm not actually talking about writing articles, essays, short stories, or what have you. (But just to clarify, if you want to earn a living as a writer, you will eventually have to "write it down" at some point. Just saying.) I'm talking about writing down those hazy goals we all have for our writing, for our careers, for our lives.
Let me admit that it has not been a sterling winter at Of Woods and Words. I mean, it hasn't been a disaster. The off season certainly started off strong with plenty of freelance work and I've done my set, "must be done" work diligently and with a surprising amount of consistency. But since about December, I've been stuck in a creative rut. The novel that I worked so hard on editing two winters back and shopped around last winter has been sitting patiently in its three ring binder, wondering if I'll ever give it the rewrite attention it needs. I've spent a lot of time hovering around, scrolling through Pinterest, waiting for the next move.
I've been frustrated with myself these last few months. I look at some of my peers' writing success and wonder why I can't drum up that much motivation. And with the ever-tight winter budget, I've felt far too much like the stereotypical penniless writer.
So on Saturday evening, I finally pulled out a pad of paper and wrote down simple, concrete goals to get me out of my slump. I wanted to start increasing web traffic, actively return to my fiction work, and increase my monthly take home by $250.00. Then underneath each goal, I wrote down specific ways I was going to achieve each goal. Write 500 words of fiction 5 times a week? That sounded do-able. Actually get three queries out the door each week? Heck, I could probably handle that too. Just by writing down the goals, I felt the stress start to fade and the control return.
I'm all about dreaming the big dream. But if you write down "become a freelance writer" on your goals list, you're going to be overwhelmed. It's too big of a goal. Instead of nibbling away at a piece of pie, you're trying to shove the entire pie, straight out of the oven, down your throat. Ouch!
So write down the big goal and write down all the little goals you'll need to meet to reach the big goal. Then write down all the things that can help you accomplish all those little goals. Don't assume your goal is ridiculous or unachievable. With a little focus, you can shake the uninspired blahs in no time.
Trust me. Write it down. Break it down. Plan it out. It helps.