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The Key to Finishing Your Book: Goals & Time Management

As writers, we all want to know the secret to actually finishing our books. And let me tell you, the difference between writers who dream about publishing and those who make it happen comes down to goal setting and time management. 

The person who has a published book is the one who took the steps to get it done. These authors treat their writing not like a hobby, but like a job – an obligation they actually want to do.

Forget waiting for inspiration or your “muse” to show up. I firmly believe that discipline and consistency are what truly get books written. Having clearly defined goals, an action plan to reach them, and the commitment to prioritize your writing is crucial.

They are the tools that will make sure you don’t lose momentum. So, what are the best goal setting techniques for writers that I recommend?

1. The Chapter Method – Aim to complete one chapter per week or timeframe that works for your book’s length. Get granular by setting daily tasks like drafting, researching, and revising.

2. The Word Count Method – Determine your book’s target word count, then divide it by a deadline to calculate your daily writing goal.

3. The Reverse Word Count – Start with your total projected word count and track the decreasing number left to write.  

4. Focus on Scenes or Milestones – Base your writing goals around completing key story events or sections.

Whichever you choose, I stress creating a detailed timeline with regular milestones. Adjust your technique if you lose motivation, and consider incentives for achieving goals. Sometimes it’s helpful to work with a fellow writer and send them your writing for the week so you have someone to hold you accountable to your self-imposed deadlines.

Once you have a goal system, employ time management strategies like:

– Scheduling recurring writing blocks and treating them as seriously as work meetings

– Asking for help covering duties so you can prioritize your book

– Banning distractions like social media for a set period  

– Waking up early or staying up late to create focused writing time

– Using techniques like time tracking and the “3 Goals Per Day” approach

– Employing the use of apps like the Pomodoro Method timer to ensure your time writing is efficient

Above all, I emphasize making temporary sacrifices for your book if it’s a true priority. The more disciplined you are, the sooner you’ll complete your first draft. 

Those sacrifices, to me, are worth it. It has to be worth it to you.

Something focused writers may encounter is writer’s block. It’s never fun when you find that you’re sitting down to write during your scheduled times, but the words just aren’t flowing and you can’t make the most of your writing sessions. My advice for overcoming writer’s block include trying new and fresh locations, free-writing, researching your audience’s needs, and other creative activities. Don’t accept writer’s block as an excuse.

The difference between writers and authors is making a plan and doing the work, even when it’s challenging. By setting clear, time-bound goals and proactively managing your schedule, you’ll build unstoppable momentum to finally finish your book.

I’m cheering you on.

If you’re struggling to get your writing done, consider working with a book coach who can help you create a personalized writing goal, implement milestones to keep you on track, develop your storytelling skills, and finish your book! Learn more on our Services page.

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