Are there characters and a plot running crazy in your mind? Are you struggling with how to get them onto paper – or should I say finding time to get the words out? Here are 5 Simple Steps to Stay Accountable and bring those characters to life within your pages.
Step 1: Save the Date!
That’s right! We’re not planning a wedding, but setting a date for your finished manuscript is one of the easiest ways to bring any idea to light. By finish, I don’t mean polished and oh so perfect. I mean getting all of the words out before revising, editing, and “all the things” needed to have your manuscript ready to be queried to agents or to self-publish.
Personally, I know that most self-published sweet romances are around 50-70,000 words. Each person is different in what “life” events are going on. Are you a parent running your kids to practice? Are you working full-time while writing? Do you write daily or only two days a week? All of this will impact your date of completion. For me, I usually schedule out 8 weeks, but when I began this journey, it took me more like 3 months. This is the amount of time I recommend to my clients because it will also give them a little wiggle room because let’s face it, 2020 has been eventful to say the least.
Step 2: Create a Writing Calendar
As adults, we all schedule our lives so that things do not get missed. If writing is something you desire then it should be scheduled as well. For myself, I love to use my planner to see exactly what days I have open for the week and month. However, when in full-on writing mode a personalized word count tracker is my go-to.
A word count tracker is literally a spreadsheet that keeps track of words. Depending on your genre and mode of publishing it will differ. Using a spreadsheet with all the key elements of setting a daily word count goal, tracking word count, hours you have available and the days you have available, it allows you to see the amount of time needed to complete your writing project.
Step 3: Create an Outline
Every author creates an outline of some kind. It’s like a road map of where you want your story to end. For me, I’m one that often jots down beginning, middle and end with a few details in each. In each of my stories, I know where we will end up, but sometimes the journey can sway from my initial thoughts. This is totally okay! Remember, it’s your book and your characters WILL talk to you.
There are multiple types of outlines within the writing world: a bubble map, alphanumeric, drawings, character “bibles,” and even just a trusty notebook with notes. All of this counts and will assist you on your journey. However you choose to outline is completely up to you and the process that fits your style.
Step 4: Accountability
As humans, we all are more likely to do anything if we are held accountable. Just think about all those New Year’s Resolutions quickly approaching. Most of those are only successful if we have someone watching over our shoulder. #justsayin
Writing is exactly the same way. Telling someone your dream of writing, the current place you are in your journey, and the goal you have set for yourself will positively impact your success.
Over the years within my classroom walls, I’ve seen students rise to the occasion when others thought the goal was too large due to accountability and expectations. With clients, I have seen the same. I have a passion for helping others by holding them accountable, giving them the nudge to get moving, positive vibes, ideas or tips when needed, and to help set realistic goals. This is my purpose in life and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today in the book world without being held accountable as well by fellow authors, friends and family.
Today, I work with clients on writing accountability. No, I will not write your book for you, but I will be your biggest cheerleader on a weekly basis and help you when things get tough.
I encourage each of you to find someone to hold you accountable on your goal of writing. It’s a step that could easily take the cake as most important on the road to success
Step 5: Find Your Niche
Niche down your category. Y’all I could preach on this step, but I won’t get on my soapbox today. You can thank me later.
In the writing world today, there are so many people that write to trend and change direction like they change their underwear. Your voice is uniquely you and no one can take that from you. I once was told, “You write for an audience of one, or none at all.” Those words have stayed with me over the years. If you don’t love what you’re writing, how can you expect a reader to love it?
Finding this niche can be difficult and the road here can be long. Take me for example, I’ve always been a sweet southern reads kinda girl. My books fall between Hallmark & Lifetime, but once I tried to make covers to market. *Face palms* It didn’t work due to what was in the pages. Today, if you check out my books, you will see a theme that is consistent across the board and it makes me proud. Funny thing is it’s exactly what I knew from day one was my niche and should have stayed the course that was in my head and heart.
Each of us have our place in the writing world, but we must stay true to ourselves in the process. Find your niche and write on!
So, if you are trying to hone in on yourself as a writer and get the words onto paper, these 5 simple steps will move you in the right direction. Remember to set a goal, plan, be true to yourself in the writing process, and find yourself a positive cheerleader. All of this will lead you on a path to successful writing today, tomorrow and for years to come!
With love and mason jars,
This was a guest post from Casey Peeler, a writing accountability coach, screenwriter and published author represented by SBR Media. She is a Southern Literature writer who has a knack for modern North and South Carolina fiction ranging from the coast to the mountains. She can always guarantee a sweet southern storyline with a strong female lead. Check out her books & one stop shop for aspiring authors when you visit her website www.authorcaseypeeler.com