Getting into the habit of achieving your writing goals is similar to any other type of practice. If you’re pragmatic, you’re going to want to start small.
For example, if I set out to practice yoga for an hour each day, I would practice zero hours of yoga each day.
Something else would always take priority over that hour of yoga.
We all have other things to do.
Instead, I consistently practice five to 20 minutes of yoga Monday through Friday.
I had to find a routine I could fit in regularly — without making a big production of it.
Have you turned your writing goals into a big production?
Your long-term writing goals.
Where you want to go.
The ultimate objective to get discovered as a writer.
All of those thoughts can serve you well.
The problem occurs when those thoughts stay thoughts because meeting your writing goal requires too much time or energy — time or energy you don’t realistically have.
Overwhelm and disappointment cloud your hopes and dreams because you haven’t actually done anything related to them.
4 small steps to meet your big writing goals
Here’s a quick litmus test:
You know you’re wasting time thinking about big writing goals if you’re not currently meeting any small ones.
You can receive a lot of benefits from completing a more compact version of your prodigious plan.
My brief yoga practice during the week still adds so much value to my life.
And quite simply, it’s easier to finish something small (think: minimum viable product). Then you have a foundation to build on, which actually moves you closer to that larger aim.
Let’s look at four steps that shatter the fantasy of your big writing goals (for now) and help you finish a practical project.
Step #1: Prioritize
Prioritizing becomes eye-roll-worthy when it’s thought of as eliminating things that are important to you:
- Spending time with family and friends
- Grocery shopping
- Brushing your teeth
You spend time on everything you currently do because those things matter.
So then, effective prioritizing (no eye-roll required) is about limiting the activities you do in excess — particularly leisure activities — to make space for the additional work you want to do with practical time management.
Effective prioritizing creates an awareness of how you spend your time and what you can tweak to fit in something new.
You could spend less time on certain things each day or try separating what you do on weekdays from what you do on weekends.
If you love Netflix, only watch your shows on the weekend.
If you love games on your phone, only play them on the weekend.
For me, I had to cut back on consuming YouTube videos so I could start producing them.
Don’t try to create tons of extra hours. Instead, play to your strengths.
Remember my yoga practice example.
If you had just one extra hour a week, could you spend it building a new content project or improving an existing one you’ve been neglecting?
When we’re willing to take an honest look at our days, we can often find the space we weren’t willing to admit existed or had any value.
Value that extra hour you can find.
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Step #2: Templatize
Let’s go back to the idea of making your writing goals “a big production.”
One way you’ll know you’ve done that is if you’re waiting for certain conditions to be “perfect.”
Maybe you’re putting off particular content ideas until you reach a certain number of subscribers.
Or until you have the right equipment.
Or until Mercury’s not retrograde.
When you do that, you overlook everything you already have to get started — in some small way.
Small progress is still progress.
And it could be a significant advancement from what you’re currently doing.
Instead of ignoring your desire for those “perfect” conditions, though, let’s work with it.
Smart templates allow you to feel in control of your project, but they also allow you to release enough control to actually get work done.
I’m referring to a “template” as anything that makes it easier to begin working rather than feeling like you’re always starting from scratch.
- A tentative content schedule (I’ll cover why it’s tentative in Step #4 below.)
- Standard headline writing formats
- Regular categories for your blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos
- Consistent sections in your email newsletter
- A blog post checklist
If you’re currently doing the groundwork to get your project moving along, your version of “templatizing” could be breaking down your idea into manageable steps.
More on that in this article: How to Break Down Your Big Idea and Make Your Next Move
These “default settings” don’t stifle your creativity; they’re diving boards to propel you into your imaginative pools.
Step #3: Visualize
Now we’ll consider your long-term writing goals for pragmatic purposes.
When a project becomes draining and we stop working on it, we’ve forgotten why it’s fun and why we wanted to do it in the first place.
We’ve made it a chore.
Reconnect to the ultimate objective that’s important to you.
And if you can’t, maybe your current project isn’t the right project.
I’m not against “giving up,” when giving up is the best option to get you back on track to what does really matter to you.
Execute narrow tasks that lead to the wider vision you have for your business and life.
Step #4: Don’t finalize
Doing the foundational work to get a project off the ground is different from finalizing every detail.
Your bio, design, graphics, tagline, topics, and publishing schedule will all evolve.
To start writing now, pick the most relevant ones you feel good about and optimize them over time.
This mindset gets you rolling along: It’s all going to change in the future anyway.
A small and manageable project still requires care … Doing something small doesn’t make you small; it makes you savvy.
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The written word drives the web. It always has, and it always will.
Even if you’re working with audio or video, the right words are still what make the difference.
- Customer experience
- Sales, growth, and profit
And if you want to master the art of using words to drive business results, you’ve come to the perfect place — Copyblogger has helped accelerate the careers of writers just like you since 2006.