Welcome to the ’20s! A new year and a new decade.

I would be keen to know just how many people have writing and publishing a book on their list of things to complete by the end of the year, whether a non-fiction book sharing their expertise, a family memoir or even a children’s book. According to a New York Times survey, 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them – and from the conversations I’ve had, I think many Australians feel the same way. Yet how many of us get to the end of the year and say, ‘Oh, well there is always next year!’

I understand that life gets busy. We start the year off well. But then, by February, life just gets in the way. Work picks up, the kids are back at school, then there are birthdays and other special occasions, and we’re pulling out the Christmas decorations again before we know it!

Meet your writing goals in 2020

For me, personally, there is only one way to avoid this, and that is by establishing a plan for when I will write and having someone to keep me accountable. This person needs to have strong resolve, be willing to kick my butt when I need it and also be able to ignore my excuses – because, believe me, the excuses will come.

If writing a book is on your list, pull out your diary and commit to writing five days every week. It doesn’t need to be for hours on end; just 30–60 minutes each day will see that word count start to rise. Plan your writing time for when you work best. For me it is early in the morning, but some do their best work when everyone else is sleeping. Find what works for you – but remember, this needs to be your non-negotiable time, and your family and friends need to know that you are simply not available.

Commit to getting a certain number of words down every day that you write. I suggest aiming for 500–1000 each session. If you’re just getting started, remember that you’re only writing a first draft and that it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Make a schedule – and stick to it!

Here’s something you can do right away: take out your diary and pen, and schedule two months of writing time. Make sure you take all aspects of your life into account to give yourself the best chance of success. For example, if you know you have an important event coming up, don’t ignore the rules of physics by scheduling your writing time in anyway – you can’t be in two places at once, and you know what will happen! Instead, make a concrete plan to get your writing time in another way (for example, get up an hour earlier or ask a friend to take the kids to school one day) and then stick to it.

Next, think long and hard about who will keep you accountable. Do you know someone who also wants to write a book? Could you keep each other accountable? Don’t ask your partner to help in this regard if there’s a chance they will throw out any roadblocks. If you would prefer someone outside your family or social circles, it might be worthwhile investing in a writing coach.

If this is the way you’d like to go, search for someone you really gel with. Ideally find an accredited coach – and do your research because although anyone can call themselves a coach, not everyone has done the training. Where possible, look for someone who has written and published their own books, and then take the time to buy and read their work.

Will you reach your writing potential in the ’20s?

2019 was a big year for me in many ways. Not least because in May I unexpectedly started a new author-services business with Dixie Maria Carlton, an author, accredited coach and marketing expert who has been working in the self-publishing arena for well over a decade. Together we formed Indie Experts to offer a before, during and after service to non-fiction authors, and one-on-one accountability is something that is proving particularly helpful in getting our authors from thinking/planning to publication and beyond.

Yes, it is true that writing and publishing can be done on your own – but working with a team can ensure that when December rolls around again you’ll have ticked one more thing off your wish list.

If you are committed to the ’20s being the decade for realising your writing potential, please learn more about Indie Experts here or contact us here.

Happy New Year, and best of luck with the writing.