Tag Archive: goals



Happy second week in the trenches!

8579377205_54a29c5cfb_zLook at you, halfway through National Novel Writing Month. You’ve made it this far, you can stick with it for sixteen more days. Don’t worry about being behind. Don’t worry about Thanksgiving robbing you of writing time. Write what you can, when you can. Remember, NaNoWriMo exists to kick you into action. If you need let your NaNo project bleed into December or January or February, let it.

Just don’t give up.

Before we get started, here’s my Week 2 NaNoWriMo 2015 update:

Project #1: edited to page 98

Project #2: 19,299 words written

Not quite where I’d like to be, but further than I was on October 31st. That’s what I love about NaNoWriMo, it gives you a standard to measure against…and it gives you a whole bunch of buddies working toward the same (or similar) goals.

And Margaret needs goals.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a planner. A list maker. A tracker. I love writing goals down and checking them off. It’s great. Fools people into thinking I’m far more organized than I am. You whip out a planner, start checking things off, and people who don’t know better assume you have it all together—that you know what you’re doing.

For me, it varies.

Some days, I’m really good about sticking to the list. I write all the words, edit all the pages, and get all the stickers (more on that in a moment). Other days, I write the list, consider it and then decide to burn it. Most days are in between—for various reasons. You know, life intrudes. Other ideas happen. The newest chapter of that fic you’re really into comes out.

Writing down your goals is important–whether they’re goals for the day, the week, the month, or the year. They become tangible. The words make them real. It’s one thing to think, “Hey, I should do NaNoWriMo this year”, but open that planner or that writing journal or even just pull out a piece of paper and write “50,000 words by November 30” and it develops substance.

I’m not really one for five year plans or ten year plans—too much can change too easily for me to get on that train. I’d get all wrapped up in what needs to happen and what’s not happening and end up upset and frustrated (I know this works for some people, I just have a hard time seeing that far ahead). I like to tackle my stuff in less mind-boggling bites. Break it down. I focus on the 4,000 words I need to write today to stay on track, instead of getting caught up in how far behind I am.

While some of my goals stretch out into next (get my own place, be able to run a 5k, attend a writer’s conference next year, survive this season of Once Upon a Time, etc.), I work best with monthly and daily goals.

At the beginning of the month, I figure out what I want/need to accomplish writing-wise over the next four weeks or so. That way I have targets to aim for. For instance, this blog. Currently, I’m aiming for one post a week, with a Saturday deadline. Will my world end if I don’t publish a post every Saturday? Technically, no. But that list with four slots reading “Blog post” is powerful motivation. And it feel good to check off that little box. Just that one action leaves me as satisfied as a good jog does.

Those monthly goals get printed out and glued in the back of my planner (I haven’t always been a consistent planner girl, the blank pages in my current planner attests that I’m still not some weeks). When I plan out my week—writing time is always easier to find when you know what else needs your time—I refer to that list. And I refer to it when I sit down to plan my day. Going back to the blog, I see that blank space next to “11/14” and I plan time to write a blog post—this post, actually.

I do my best to keep my goals specific. “Write today” could mean anything, but “Work on WIP #2” gives me some direction. I don’t stop there though, after all, that leaves so much wiggle room. One sentence technically meets that goal.

So I give myself something to measure against. “Work on WIP #2” becomes “Write 1k words for WIP #2” and now I have something to reach for, something to achieve.

Of course, there’s common sense mixed in there too. After all, if I only have an hour to write, one thousand words is a reasonable goal. It gives me just enough time to warm up and find my writing groove. To try writing three thousand words, though? Even I’m not that delusional. I know my limits.

And now, to impart my most reliable secret to staying on task:

STICKERS!

Yes, I know, I sound like a five-year old. (Though, at least I don’t plaster them to every flat surface in the house anymore. You’re welcome, Mom).

Seeing the fruit of my labors is difficult when everything lives on my computer. I don’t get to watch a notebook get all warped as I fill the pages up. Instead, I wait until it’s time to print the draft and start lugging it around. To combat this, I use stickers—which serve as both progress markers and little mini rewards. Each sticker has a value. For every thousand words I write, I get a star. Did I edit five pages? Great, I get a big heart. What if it was only two pages? I get a smaller star. Read a book? I have a sticker for that. Publish a blog? Yep, sticker for that. Finish a draft? Oh, you bet I have a sticker for that. Nice big, shiny, adorable owl stickers.

Every time I earn one of these stickers, I slap that thing into my planner with pride. Especially when I can look back at the stickers I earned the day before (or the lack there of, let me tell you that’s motivation itself). It’s a great way to keep track of what I’ve done and it’s portable, which is important since my office is whatever Starbucks or library I’ve ended up in that day. I can’t claim credit for this idea. I stole it from my friend, Dot, who stole it from author Victoria Schwab (Vicious, A Darker Shade of Magic) who probably stole it from some elementary school teacher. Feel free to steal from me, or come up with your own method. But find a way.

Give yourself something to accomplish and then go after it. Don’t let anything stop you. You can do it.

Question of the Week:

What are some of the writing goals you’d like to accomplish by year’s end?


Image: Inspiring moleskine by cathredfern, CC BY-NC 2.0


New Years-1-002 by Ludie Cochrane

Happy New Year!

I know, I know. I sort of dropped off the face of the Earth for a while.

It all started with National Novel Writing Month in November. A great success if I may say so. No, I did not make it to 50,000 words by the end of the month. On Nov. 30 at 11:49 p.m., I looked at my word count and decided that 42,000 words was good enough for my first year. I mean, all things considered I am now 30,000 words and fourteen chapters closer to the end of Mind Games (which is plotted out at roughly 40 chapters, though that will most definitely change). It’s exciting being able to look at the word count for MG and see the number 42,000. My last “book” finished at 47,000 and I’m only halfway finished with this one. I think I have a pretty good chance of hitting that 80,000-100,000 word goal for this current project.

Can tell that I’m restraining myself from over-using my CAPS Lock?

And then there was the December-long reading binge where I endeavored to finish all of those books that I started in the last year, but for one reason or another put down (mostly for another book). That went relatively well also.

And that leads in to what this year holds for me.

Now, I’m not one to really make New Year’s resolutions per se. I believe that if you want to change there is no day like today. However, the last two months have brought me to some conclusions (not to mention drastically changed the plot of Mind Games):

  1. I need to read more.
  2. I need to write more.
  3. It’s time to get this book finished.
  4. I don’t want to write for money, I want to make money writing and there is a difference.

Which has led me to set some goals that could be considered New Year’s resolutions, if I made NYRs.

The easiest one is going to be reading more. My goal for 2012 is to read 48 books. Could I read a whole lot more? Yes. Would my house, school and life suffer? At this point, yes.  Most books take me 6-7 hours to read. So, finishing a book a week shouldn’t be too hard. That’s just an hour a day. To make it more challenging and improve my reading range, I have come up with a few guidelines. First, at least one of those books is to be a book on writing. Second, I cannot read two books of the same genre/age range back-to-back. With the exception of series (because that would be just cruel). So, should I want compare say YA paranormal fantasy and adult paranormal fantasy, I can. But I shall refrain from reading…oh let’s go with Fever by Lauren DeStefano and then Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy (both YA dystopian novels). There has to be something different in between. This is to encourage me to read outside of my comfort zone. I read a lot of young adult, fantasy and science fiction. That leaves whole genres that I haven’t tapped. Crime, historical fiction, suspense (which, despite my mother’s protests, I love), romance, all those classics (which I also enjoy), “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera” as they say in The King and I.

All of this is just a step towards my becoming a better writer (my other goal).

Because by the end of February I’m planning to have a finished first draft. And then it will be time to edit. And then…it’s time to query (and start the next book). Eek! In fact, one of the gifts I asked for this Christmas was the 2012 Writer’s Market. If I want to be a writer…it’s time to BE a writer.

That’s my goal for 2012.

What’s yours? Have you thought about your goals as a writer? Have you written them down? Do it. It makes them easier to stick to. And then do your best!

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