Just like handover notes will help when coming back to a project after time away, taking stock as you move from one year to the next is a great habit to get into.
It also helps shift you into the right head and physical space to achieve your writing goals, with a reset if you’re lacking motivation.
To find out how to take stock and the benefits it will give you, read on!
Taking Stock: Resetting To Hit Your Writing Goals
Clean Your Desk
Start your reset with a clean slate!
Clean your desk or wherever it is that you write.
Not only will this provide you with a nice place to work, but it will also help you get into the right mindset.
It really is true that a messy desk equals a messy mind, so with your writing area clean and usable, it’ll signal to your brain (and the muse) that you are ready to work and the ideas can flow.
Clear surfaces, organize messy drawers, wipe away dust, throw out ink-less pens, scraps of paper, empty chocolate wrappers, and anything else that you’ve been promising to tidy up later.
With a clean desk, you’ll have a clear space and the motivation to dive into your next writing session.
If you’re a writer who saves a new file with every draft, creates blog posts, social media graphics, freelances, tracks royalties, and everything else to do with self-publishing or making a living from writing, chances are you have digital and physical files all over the place.
When taking stock, put a system in place to gather those files where you can easily find them. It’ll be a big help when you have to create invoices, do taxes, or dig up that perfect idea you scribbled down six months ago.
I like to keep anything physical, such as printed manuscripts, writing checklists, course paperwork, invoices, etc in a filing system on my desk for easy reach. For digital files, I sort them into categories (writing drafts, blog posts, published books) in their own folders on my computer and I back them up.
With your files organized, you’ll be surprised at how much it feels like a weight has been lifted. Even if those files were out of sight, out of mind on a computer, knowing they’re organized and ready to find when needed will go a long way to freeing up your subconscious for hitting your writing goals.
Compile A File
Once you’ve got a clean space and everything organized digitally and physically, it’s time to compile a file.
Sit down and look at all the projects you have to work on, including almost finished, partly finished, and not even started ideas and manuscripts.
Create a file of what those projects are and decide if they’re worth pursuing or dropping.
We’ve all had projects that seemed like a good idea when noting them down, but will now no longer work, or can be replaced with something better. There are also projects that no longer fit your skill level, either because you’re leveled up past them or have a long way to go until you can attempt them.
Seriously consider each project, if it’s a viable idea and something you can work on in the near and far future. Delete what can’t complete, keep what you can, and move to the next step!
With your project file created, put together a dream list of what you’d like to work on for the next year, and then have a realistic list of what you’re likely to work on.
The realistic list might go along the lines of getting the WIP to a beta reader stage or writing at least one blog post a month.
Crossing an item of either list will be a worthy achievement, so lists those dream and realistic goals and follow through on what you can.
Plan Your Goals
Now that you know what you’re working on and have a clean, organized space to do it, plan how you will.
Break those goals into tasks you will work on daily, weekly, monthly, and set deadlines.
Specific goals with a start and end date give you something to work toward. You can always shift those goalposts whenever life gets in the way (which it will), but as long as you’re not working aimlessly, there’s no reason you can’t complete the project. This is turn will build up your motivation to keep writing. It’s a win-win!
Let Things Go
When taking stock of what you want to do, don’t forget to take stock of what you have done.
This includes accomplishments and failures.
Like life, writing doesn’t always turn out how you wanted. If you’ve decided your heart can’t take the rejections of submissions anymore, give it a break until you’re strong enough to deal with the disappointment again.
The goals you started chasing years ago might not be what you want or what will work for you anymore, and that’s okay.
Give yourself permission to adjust your wants and capabilities and let go of the things that make you procrastinate instead of working toward your writing dreams.
Find Your Joy Again
The weight of keeping on top of things, of having to be active on social media, of all the things that have to do with writing but aren’t writing becomes really heavy some days. It’s okay to take stock and step back if you need to or to change your tactics and pursue what isn’t working in a different way.
Remember the reason why you started writing in the first place and get to know it again. Write for yourself. Forget about an audience you’ll never completely please, the editor working through their slush pile, and the writing rules that make you freeze every time you complete a sentence. Find your joy in creating again and revel in it!
Take One Thing Away
And finally, after taking stock of your writing space, your files, your goals, and your attitude, look at your list of projects again and take one thing away.
If you examine your reasons for taking stock in the first place, I’m sure you’ll find being overwhelmed is one of them. We always stretch ourselves thin, especially in the pursuit of our dreams.
No one will work harder for your writing dream than you will, but that isn’t always a good thing. Chances are you’ve added one too many projects to the list. Cut one thing and work toward everything else.
If you get your list done, great! Go back to what was removed and complete it. If not, add it to the top of your list the next time you’re ready to take stock and complete it when you’re full of motivation, ready for a fresh change, and have successfully reset.
— K.M. Allan