Wednesday, January 14, 2015

So, I had only been planning on a "I'm Back with the Living" post, but decided, as I've been writing a lot lately, that there's something else to talk about. And that's setting goals/resolutions/whatever else you want to call it for the new year. I've seen a lot of people talking about how they try and set themselves a goal at the start of the year and how, by the end of January, it's already fallen through. Now, I'm not saying I'm an expert, because I'm not, but some other people have mentioned how trying what other people recommend doesn't work for them. And I, personal, think that's because you have to take an idea and adapt it for yourself. For me, I read an author who said to keep their writing on track they make a table in a document and write the month in one column, their word goal in another, and what they actually wrote. They also kept a notebook on them and wrote down what they wrote each day. I stared at that idea and realized it might work. I'd heard from others that they tried to set day word count goals, but that didn't work for me. This, though, just might. I've done NanoWrimo (Nation Novel Writing Month for anyone who hasn't heard of it, and there are a lot, I know. I have to remind my family each year and I've been participating for a few), so this would be somewhat like that. That author put down fifty thousand words as their goal each month. I stared at that number and quaked. For one it would be like every month was another Nano novel. I struggle enough with balancing my jobs and writing that that didn't sound appetizing. So I choose a small number. Each month I'd aim for ten thousand. Small enough that I don't feel daunted since this is my first time setting such a goal, but big enough that if I'm having a bad month I feel I can still make it. My only exceptions are November (when NanoWrimo takes place) and December (which I put as five thousand because after a Nano I'm drained). Then I set up an Excel spreadsheet because that's what I use during Nano to track my progress. I made two tabs, one that would have my month total, and the second was my January day total (I'll add each month as they come as a new tab, but no need to clutter the spreadsheet just yet). Since I don't tend to write anywhere but on my laptop, it works better than a planner. For the first six days I averaged about a thousand words a day. And, after fourteen days, my total is over twenty thousand. Do I expect this to continue? Not really, no. But I can hope it will, and I can look back when I'm having a tough month and go "You know what? I managed over twenty thousand words in January. Even though I'm only at five thousand this month, I'm still on track to reach my goal at the end of the year." And it will also remind me that meeting your goals needs to be realistic. Which is why I also tend to set a word count goal for each story I write. I look at the idea I have written and think, "Do I have enough of a setting in my own mind? Enough detail? Will all of it be included?" If it's a contemporary novel I expect it to be a smaller word count than a fantasy novel. And if my word count goal for a story manages to boost my monthly word count, all the better. Just like with anything else, your writing goals need to be realistic. And I hope, whether you're a writer or someone you know is one, that this idea might help them, because time management is a pain in most everyone's butts, and we can all use a little help sometimes. -Ann Anderson

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