It seems safe to say that after a year of lockdown, normal life finally shimmers on the not too distant horizon. Maybe you’ve spent the past 12 months simply surviving, working, and taking care of your family, itching for an hour to write. Possibly you’ve enjoyed vast stretches of solo time, but maybe no motivation to put pen to paper or to open your digital document. Whatever your pandemic situation, you’re not alone if you feel FOMO about writing objectives left unaccomplished.
COVID vaccinations are just ramping up, social distancing remains a necessity, and there’s still time to knock one or more items off your goal list so isolation feels creatively productive.
10 Mini Writing Goals to Accomplish During the Pandemic Countdown
1. Write a new short story
There’s nothing more rewarding than composing a sparkling fresh narrative. If you pen a sentence a day, you’ll hit approximately 3,000 words by July. As Margaret Atwood said, “A word after a word after a word is power.”
2. Join and learn one online platform
Engaging in social media can definitely benefit your writing career by connecting you with other scribes, pointing you toward contests, and revealing what literary agents and editors are looking for. If Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram aren’t your thing, find your people at sites like Writer’s Cafe, Critique Match, or Scribophile, all of which Writer’s Digest chose for its list of Top 101 Websites For Writers 2020.
3. Read a craft book
You desperately want to study up on your passion, but between real-life responsibilities, the actual act of writing, and your teetering to-read stack, it’s impossible to find time. The answer: sneak in a few minutes a day to indulge in learning about writing. Instead of hopping on your phone to mindlessly scroll while you wait for noodles to boil or a load of laundry to finish drying, flip open your text of choice and fit in a few pages.
4. Submit to one publication or agent per week
Getting published will only happen if you put your work out there. Once you’ve written, revised, and polished, commit to submitting to one outlet or agent at regular intervals.
5. Go big by doing your own NaNoWriMo or 1,000 Words of Summer
Want to generate a ton of writing in a short time span? Adopt the NaNo philosophy of laying down 50,000 words in a month. They may not be pretty, but they’ll be on the page and ready for revision. Alternatively, 1,000 Words started by Jami Attenberg, puts forth the impressive goal of penning, you guessed it, 1K words a day. If you adapt 1,000 Words for Spring, you’ll complete a full novel draft by summer. Or, go smaller with sprints—a helpful technique to keep you focused by setting a timer for thirty minutes, maybe an hour, and writing like the wind while resisting distractions. Turn off your phone, close your internet browser, and inform your people that you’re busy doing something beloved and afterward you’ll return to them better for having written.
6. Research a story
Dive into learning all you can about coffee plant growth in Costa Rica or the history of eagle hunters in Mongolia. If you’re unable to hone in on the nuts and bolts of getting words down, our protracted stay-at-home order is the perfect time to study up on the subject of your planned piece. Take copious notes and once you’re able to concentrate on creativity again, you’ll be ready to swiftly draft.
7. Write a poem
Whether or not you consider yourself a poet, penning quatrains or couplets flexes writing muscles you may not normally use for narrative prose and can shift your imagination in new and inspiring ways. Go beyond haiku and immerse yourself, at least for a page, in the joy of playing with words.
8. Attend an online writing class, salon, or reading
Everything is virtual and it’s never been easier to show up for events you couldn’t access otherwise. Online platforms give us a new opportunity to learn from instructors and explore discussions in far-flung locations. Take advantage of offerings from Writer’s Digest University, Catapult, Hugo House, or many others.
9. Compose a personal essay
If you’re one of the lucky few with extra time, indulge in mining your life for essay-worthy experiences. Most essays run from 800 to 1200 words and contain at least a small arc, some way in which your story has changed you. Write the headline and deck first to keep your essay focused. And be brave. The best personal essays consist of a story that’s unique to you while offering a universal truth.
10. Keep a pandemic journal
Will you or your kids someday wish you’d kept a log of this unique time in history? With luck, we’ll never have to endure another pandemic in our lifetimes and while it might seem boring now to write “Day 364 of lockdown. Vaccine still months away. Today I worked, played Monopoly with the kids, grocery shopped while wearing two masks, and wrote five hundred words on a new short story,” someday you’ll be glad you did.