One way to achieve your writing goals

Writing is primar­ily a sol­it­ary pur­suit. Writers need chunks of un­in­ter­rup­ted time to think about their story and get it down.

But it’s all too easy to do too much think­ing and not enough writ­ing. To prom­ise your­self you’re go­ing to fin­ish chapter five this month…and then find that all you’ve done is move a few words around on your com­puter screen.

That’s when hav­ing a writ­ing buddy can make a dif­fer­ence. This is someone you can share your dreams and doubts with, as well as your struggles and successes.

A paint­ing from Bev’s Forest series.

One of my best writ­ing bud­dies isn’t even a writer. Bev Byerley’s a West Coast paint­er with a pas­sion for land­scape. Just like me, she needs time to think and work. And she grapples with the shapes of clouds and trees the way I wrestle with the sound of phrases and paragraphs.

I was sur­prised to dis­cov­er that the cre­at­ive pro­cess is sim­il­ar no mat­ter what the me­di­um. And I en­joy the ca­marader­ie of get­ting to­geth­er with an­oth­er artist.

My oth­er writ­ing buddy is a writer. Caroline Woodward is the au­thor of sev­er­al books and count­less poems. She used to live in the same town as me. We’d meet for lunch every couple of months to yak about our latest pro­jects, the re­jec­tions or ac­cept­ances we re­ceived from pub­lish­ers and oth­er as­pects of the writ­ing life.

Then her hus­band got a job on a light­house and she fol­lowed. But

Last fall Caroline toured BC with her new adult nov­el, Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny, as well as her new chil­dren’s book, Singing Away the Dark. 

be­fore she left, we vowed to email each oth­er on the first day of every month. These emails in­clude our writ­ing goals for the com­ing month and a pro­gress re­port on what we ac­com­plished the pre­vi­ous one.

We’ve been do­ing this for a couple of years now and are both sur­prised at how this one email a month helps keep our writ­ing on track. Without plan­ning it, we’ve ar­ranged a sys­tem that in­cor­por­ates sev­er­al im­port­ant tips re­com­men­ded by goal set­ting experts.

The first one is to make a com­mit­ment by telling someone what you plan to do. The second is to form a con­crete plan by writ­ing it down. And the third is to be ac­count­able by telling someone what you achieved…or didn’t.

So, if you have a lot of ideas but have trouble ac­com­plish­ing them, I re­com­mend find­ing a cre­at­ive buddy. This should be someone you like, feel com­fort­able with and admire.

Ideally, each of you will have slightly dif­fer­ent areas or levels of ex­pert­ise so you can learn from each oth­er. But most of all, you should both be pre­pared to listen and of­fer con­struct­ive feed­back. Laughing a lot is good too.

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