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How to Achieve Your Writing Goals for Just Pennies


Photo by Amanda Bui courtesy of Creative Commons

If you’re a typical writer, you made all kinds of New Year’s resolutions this month:

“I will publish 3 articles in national magazines.”
“I will complete the first draft of my novel.”
“I will get an agent by June.”
“I will get my memoir PUBLISHED this year!”

And if you’re like me, you invent reward systems to help you attain your goals. I’ve tried everything, like:

1. Hired Martha Borst, a professional coach (who is wonderful)
2. Joined goals groups with biweekly meetings
3. Designed goal calendars with rewards for writing every day for a month
4. Mailed my girlfriend $1000 dollars and asked her to mail me back $100 for every month I completed my writing goals
5. Signed up to websites like Joe’s Goals

None of them have worked. I’ll promise myself a new laptop if I finish a draft of my book, but then my laptop will die and I’m forced to buy a new one whether my book is done or not. I’ve tried rewarding myself with clothes, massages—you name it—but nothing really works. I’m like my 5-year-old daughter who said to me this morning, “I don’t care if I can’t watch TV. I’m not getting out of bed.”

But something I tried this week IS working, and it’s much cheaper than an iPad or a new pair of shoes. In fact, it costs just pennies. Real pennies. 50 of them to be exact.

I place a pile of pennies on my desk next to my computer, and for every page I write or edit (depending on my goal that day), I move one penny over to a new pile. At first it’s discouraging as I see just one penny, two, maybe three in my new pile. But I keep working, and before I know it, I’ve got 15, 20, 25 and I’m seeing real progress toward my goal. The next morning, I slide the pennies back into original pile and begin again. It may seem like a Sisyphean task—starting over again every morning—but somehow it works. Seeing that pile of shiny copper discs pile up in front of me is more rewarding than real money, a new toy, or even the potential of that ever-elusive book contract. And it costs just pennies. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be pennies. You could use marbles or paper clips or whatever you have lying around. The point is to view your progress in a tangible way. It works for me. Give it a try, and let me know if it works for you!

30 comments to How to Achieve Your Writing Goals for Just Pennies

  • Loved this post, Meghan. Thank you so much! Your blog never fails to inspire. In fact, I was so impressed with this I just forwarded it to a friend who does life coaching, since she may like it as a tool for her clients.

  • Great article Meghan.

    This year, unlike most, I actually wrote down my goals for the year. I bought an App for my iPad that helped me organize them and I devoted a few days to the process. It has really helped to have them in one place and I'm kicking butt this year.

    My main goal is to write 2,000 words per day every Sunday – Thursday and I haven't missed one yet in 2015.

    It's early, but at this pace I should be able to finish and publish all my 5 WIPS and maybe another 3 – 5 novels this year. That would be a huge bump to my inventory.

    I've also done well at getting audio books rolling and have the first Henry Wood being translated into German and A Touch To Die for into Italian.

    Again, it's all about getting the ideas down so that when I'm ready to work I know what needs to be done.

    This year is going to rock!

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  • Great Post,It's good to read it.All of the tips which you described is amazing and I think it would be really helpful at all.

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  • Cheryl Scott

    This is great, Meghan. I've just started getting serious about writing (during my off-work hours). I'm active on my blog, and that's great and fun, but now I'm working on a longer project, a short-ish story about my dad's family history, starting with his dad's childhood. I find myself amazed by how much time I'm spending writing/editing/polishing, yet the number of pages doesn't seem to be increasing very quickly. Maybe this will help!

  • Meghan that's superb another great stuff by you. Every a time whenever i come to your blog found so such items that appreciates me to have a good go especially at my writing skills above article is one example of it. My all wishes are with you Meghan.

  • kimblack121

    I'm unsure. i believe most writers hit this slump, sometimes within the middle of their initial book. It's all a matter of focus and the way dangerous you wish it. however I will counsel one thing. i do not grasp if it'll work for you. It utterly depends on however smart you're at finishing tiny daily goals for yourself. however here it's.

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  • They say writing it down helps you accomplish goals, not that it become any easier to do so. Writing them down doesn't make any disparity for me. in reality, this is disappointing to me because I have later look at what I wrote and never proficient most of them. It seems to work better for me to have the goal in my mind not on paper.

  • kyled.doody

    Writing is not an easy task, but it requires a lot of skills, such as ability to concentrate or to keep in mind the plot or to express the thought in very specific words. many writers became famous not just because of their talent but because of their diligence and love to reading. This is a very good list of books. I would recommend to read the last one to every writer.

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  • Yes, this is the content that I was looking for and finally got here. I readout this content from start to last and finally able to understand that what are the exact ways to achieve writing goals and I will surely follow the way. Thanks mate 🙂

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  • If you are life form serious, then–for starter, you're annoying way, WAY too hard. The odd, affected, archaic language feels like you're trying to write some sort of Victorian novel. You don't need an likeness or metaphor in nearly every ruling. Think of them like spice: sufficient makes a tasty plate; too much spoils it.

  • Excellent post Mehgan! It was truly inspiring for me, and I will certainly follow the ideas.

  • I am very much inspired with the idea of writing…I am a professional writer and this blog has given me a bunch of inspiration..Thank you so much for this effort..

  • It's great to peruse it.All of the tips which you portrayed is astounding and I think it would be truly useful by any means.Excellent post Mehgan! It was truly totally inspiring for me,

  • Thanks a lot for the article, it was very informative!

  • Amazing post! thanks for sharing.

  • There are so many useful resources those we can search for writing tips. We must follow writing tips provided by experts to become a good writer and achieve our goals.

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