Everything else I was doing (reading books, craft books, blogs, industry news) was definitely helpful, but the one thing that really helped me improve was practice.
Everybody needs to come up with a plan that will work for them. This is just what worked for me.
Set goals you can meet. Starting out, I always set a goal of a page a day. I let myself come up with that one page whenever and wherever I could.
Start fresh every day…don’t play catch-up. Don’t get discouraged by feeling you’re falling behind. Each day is a fresh chance to meet your goal—not catch up on the previous day’s goal.
If you’re facing a challenging day the following day (or even if you’re not), then write a short couple of sentences that night to remind yourself what you’re planning on writing the following day. Or where you’re picking up with your story.
Be flexible. Learn to write on the go, out in public, in the morning, during lunch, or at night. You don’t have to set a particular place or time to write.
If it helps—try not to edit what you’ve already written. For me, that’s a discouraging process because I’m seeing all the faults in the manuscript. For me, the most important thing is moving the story to its conclusion, not editing as I go.
Remember that first drafts are supposed to be bad. And give yourself permission to have an awful first, second, or tenth draft. The only one that counts is the one you submit.
Have any writing tips for daily goals or starting out with a manuscript?