Stay Motivated and On Track: Start A Writing Calendar

This year my resolution is to think of my writing as a career, which is hard when you’re already juggling a career and are still in the Revising stages of your novel. Two months into the new year and I am sure I’m not the only one who has to constantly remind myself of my goals and to write every day, still staying motivated is hard.

Which is why I’ve come to adopt a new process this year which has helped me stay on track and remember my goals. Ladies and Gentlemen… The Writing Calendar.

Keeping a calendar is probably the best way for me to stay on track. I have two (yes TWO). One that helps me remember blog posts, contest dates and writing meetups. I fill this calendar with things to help me improve my writing craft and set minor goals in it like, “finish that short story” or “sign up for query contest.” This way I am always doing SOMETHING that helps me with my writing every month. And when I accomplish that goal I get a cute little sticker. Stickers are a great source of motivation.

I established these this calendar after I read Kresley Cole’s talk about her “Rule of 25,” as part of  her path to publication. Essentially, she committed herself  do 25 things that will further her writing craft, which  kept her moving towards her goal. I don’t do 25 Things, mine is more “5 Things A Month Plan.”  It is important to always keep working towards the goal of publication and working on your writing craft, so my calendar helps remind me to do my 5 writing things a month. This can be blogging about writing, entering contests, signing up for web conferences… ANYTHING.

Here is my “5 Things” Calendar

One of my BIG goals for this year was to attend a Writing Conference, which I am planning on attending in May. Notice at the top my little count down to keep myself excited and as a reminder that I need to get business cards and schedule flights! Mostly though, it  helps me loo ahead and stay motivated!

On my other writing calendar I track my writing days and wordcounts. This doesn’t mean I schedule writing times, but everyday I put some words on a blank page I make sure to record it. Even writing 500 words every day for a whole week leaves you with 3500 words at the end.

My writing friend Deidre  gave me this handy-dandy Excel Spreadsheet that helps keep track. I enjoy that with every word count milestone the block changes color, and when I’ve written consecutively for a week this thing is as colorful as a forest in fall. Plus it keeps track of weekly inputs and yearly total word counts. (You should SEE this thing in November during Nanowrimo.)

Here is what it looks like, if you aren’t savvy with Excel (like myself) don’t worry. It’s very easy. All you need to do is type in your daily word count and the algorithms do the rest. It is even easy for reuse every year. I’ve been using this spreadsheet for nearly two years now.

You can download and try it here:
Year Long Word Count Template

Hopefully one or both of these methods help you. Are there any other writing calendars or trackers that you use to stay motivated? Let me know!

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