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Pacing Your Writing Journey By Becky Martinez

Every year many beginning writers, working-to-be-published writers, and even published writers tell themselves this is the year they will really work on meeting their writing goals and get all the writing done that they plan. This is the year they will get a book or short story published. A good many do either make a good beginning or get some of the work done and every year new writers finally actually achieve their dreams. Even fewer even become bestselling authors.

But for too many others, it still doesn’t happen.

Unfortunately, that is usually the majority of writers who set those writing goals in January. They either give up after a few days or weeks or end up abandoning their project halfway through. Some realize the entire process takes a lot more time and effort than they are willing to spend on it. They find there is not enough time, they don’t have the energy or the devotion to put into their writing. Or they may run into a few setbacks or criticism and drop their plans as a result instead of taking those setbacks to heart or working on weak points to improve their work.

For those who manage to stick with their idea and keep writing and writing, and editing and eventually get the project done, there are still more questions than answers. Will their book turn into a best seller? Well, that is another question altogether.  But that elusive golden ring cannot be the automatic end result we expect or we would never get started. We can keep it up there dangling above us and keep reaching for it. Actually, that can make the journey all the more fun and rewarding Think of how fulfilled you will be when you finally latch onto that golden ring and get a good firm grip on it.

For those who keep battling away and reaching ever upward with our writing, whether we are working on the first short story, or a new idea or another novel in a series, the work continues. Even for bestselling authors, the work continues. There is no looking back if you’re a writer, you want to keep writing. For the real writer, the joy of writing doesn’t end just because you aren’t published. You still keep getting those ideas into your head, and it is great to have an outlet to work on those ideas.

How can you make a start toward achieving your writing goals?

It pays to have a plan, and that can mean taking a look at your strengths and weaknesses in your own writing plans. How do we set goals when it comes to paying off bills or losing weight or getting more fit? We set up a plan. We know we are not going to reach those goals overnight. We need to pace ourselves, whether it is paying bills or losing weight. We’re not going to become fit overnight and we’re not going to become great writers overnight. We need to set up a plan and then work on our goals. We also need to do it in a way that makes sense and that means setting some goals and limits. We aren’t going to exercise 15 hours a day to get fit. We’re not going to work 20 hours a day to pay off our bills or starve ourselves to lose weight. We need to set realistic goals and then set a proper pace for ourselves to reach them.

How do we do that with our writing?

We need to work on pacing our writing and our writing habits. Just as we exercise regularly or eat right regularly to lose weight or get fit, we need to set a pace in our writing. Nothing happens overnight. We need to make it work with our schedules and our daily lives. Setting a writing pace of 12 hours a day is unrealistic. Setting a pace of one or two hours can work some days and only 20 minutes might work other days, but no two writers are alike so you need to set the pace yourself.

  1. Set a time for working on your writing. Just as you set a time for working out or doing household chores. Give yourself an hour a day when you know you can be most creative—whether it is first thing in the morning, a few hours in the evening or even over lunch. One of my favorite times to write is during the lunch hour when things are quiet because people are away from their desks or when I have quiet time. These days you don’t even need to carry a computer around. I’ve watched best-selling authors sit down and tap off their ideas into their phones or iPads. I carry a notebook with me and I often sit over lunch and write a scene or two. Later when I transcribe it into my computer, I find myself adding enough to complete a scene or two.
  2. Commit to working on something writing-related every day. Even if it isn’t new words on your novel, make certain you are working in some way in that direction of getting published. If you don’t feel like writing a new scene, try editing yesterday’s pages, or try researching for your work. Read a few pages from one of your favorite authors in your genre. Pace yourself so that you don’t get burned out on your work.
  3. Start something new. If you find yourself at a loss in your current work, trying a different approach. Write a short story so that you’re getting something done, but keep working on your novel or novella. Try a new subject or try taking your book in a new direction. You might even consider trying to write a short story with one of the other characters in your book.
  4. Develop a new character for a future project or for your current work. Coming up with characters is always a fun project. Working on something new can also give you new energy in your goal of writing. Creating new characters can be fun. I get a kick out of my brother who tells me he’d love to write a novel and has plenty of great plots in mind, and he’d do it… if he could only come up with characters… To me, developing new characters is something I really enjoy. It can be great fun to see those cardboard figures come to life with a fun personality or a wicked wit, or an evil plan.
  5. Get into a critique group. The thing I like about critique groups is that it gives you the opportunity to look at other’s works to see problem areas that you might not be aware you are also having trouble with. Those critique partners can also pick out some of your issues so that you can more readily see the problems and fix them in advance next time.

Mostly, as we get started on this new year, keep your overall writing goals in mind.

Write them down if you like and keep a note card with them on a bulletin board or use it as a screen that you see when you open your computer. If you want to be a writer, you need to find a time and place to write – whether it is your office, a coffee shop or on the bus or train riding to work. Set yourself a schedule and keep the goal in mind that you want to finish a story. Set a good pace so that you get work done in a timely fashion and never lose sight of the fact that you are a writer. If you are working on a fiction story, you ARE a writer. Adding “published” to that title would be great for the new year!

Now, if you need help with work on your novel, I will be starting a class on pacing at Savvy Authors next week. We’ll be looking at how to properly keep your story moving along to keep readers turning the pages, how to pace through dialogue, how to get off to a fast pace with your opening and then how to keep your book moving along so the readers can’t put it down. I hope you’ll join me then, and good luck with your writing in the new year so that by 2021, you can achieve some of your writing goals.


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Becky Martinez is a former broadcast journalist who writes romance and romantic suspense for The Wild Rose Press. She also writes non-fiction books on...

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