Goals, resolutions, call them what you will.
So, I woke up this morning to an email from one of the members of my MM critique group. Of course, the traditional thing on New Year’s is to state your plans for the year. And, then it’s also tradition to trash those plans two weeks into the year. So, I kind of got to thinking–what are my plans?
Some, of course, will be personal, and not that new: lose weight, get more work done around the house, etc. But what about writing goals?
Over at Absolute Write, we’ve been talking a lot, on and off, about writing goals, about word counts and about our emotional responses to the odd difficulties of putting words on paper. Last year, LA Witt had a goal of 1,000,000 words written. She had to work like a fiend (to the point where we accused her of being a cyborg), but she did accomplish her goal. Someone else has set a goal of 500,000 words for this year. Another author set a goal of so many sales. So, how do you go about setting goals?
My goals tend to be nested, like those Russian dolls. I’d like to write 175,000 words this year. I was just over 120,000 in 2012, so this seems like a reasonable number. It works out to 486 words every day. Let’s just call it 500. Easier to remember. But I can build in some subgoals as well.
I have a due date for Knight, which is May 1. That’t the main subgoal. It tells me that I need to have my clean copy ready for my beta readers by March 30th, at the latest, because I can count on needing at least 2 weeks to edit out the mistakes they find. 89 days maximum.
But I have to have some smaller goals, easier to get to, or I’ll put things off when life gets hectic. Okay, well, my crit group seems to have settled on a two week schedule. That’s a pretty decent time frame–often enough that I get those psychological rewards, enough time that if something does go haywire, I can still make it up. So, one chapter of Knight, every two weeks. That’s about 4000 words. 2000 per week. 286 words per day. I can do that.
If I make 300 words my daily goal for Knight, that leaves me 200 words to keep other things chugging along. Whatever story I want. It’s my reward. Don’t feel like writing about cyborgs? Work on the fantasy. Sick of worldbuilding? Work on the rockstar romance. Wow, that’s looking kinda–doable. Cool. And I know, from past experience, that if I’ve spent some time thinking about the story beforehand, I can put 700 good words on the page in about an hour. So I’m looking at about 25 minutes of writing per day on Knight, then another 15 on whatever I want to work on. And an hour of housework scheduled before I sit down at the computer, so that becomes one of my goals too. Honestly, housework is the best “thinking about my work-in-progress” time out there. Worth it’s weight in gold, I’ll tell ya. So, I get a clean house, several works-in-progress moving along, and I don’t have time to sit on my rear and eat chocolate, so I lose weight too. AWESOME!
As a carrot, to encourage myself to go past the daily limit, I make myself a wordage bank. Any words above my daily amount, I can bank against a day where I just can’t get to the computer, or when I’ve blocked myself on the story by over-thinking it. So I can work on other stories without guilt. Like If/Then, which I worked on last night and this morning, adding over a thousand words to the first chapter and tightening up the worldbuilding by leagues.
So, my writing goals for this year break down like this I guess:
1. write 175,000 words over the course of the year. Use the Spreadsheet of Splendor to keep track of daily wordcounts and total wordcounts. (More on the Spreadsheet later…)
2. Turn a chapter of Knight (about 4000 words)in to the crit group every two weeks. (Oh, I think I’m going to tank on this one already–I’m NOT happy with the third chapter at all!)
3. Write 500 words per day. 300 of these words need to be new words in Knight, until it is subbed, then all bets are off. The rest to be divided between other works in progress.
I’m kind of appalled. Why did I think this was so tough? I can make these goals, easy! Bet you can too.
What kind of trouble can I get Ben and Ross into today?
PS. Anyone who gets the All Romance ebooks newsletter has probably already seen this, but it’s worth a mention: 25 Writer Resolutions for 2013 by terribleminds. It’s all true.