Thursday, March 05, 2015

On Writing and Goals

This picture* has nothing to do with anything
except wow so much snow this year!
I recently switched up my writing game. Previously, I was writing with a daily minimum word count in mind. 7 days a week, no allowance for a weekend, just write the minimum (usually 1000 words, though on days when El Husband was home I would settle for 500) EVERY DAY.

Daily writing had worked for me in the past -- it's a great habit to form and I wanted to keep it up, because I'm a firm believer that as a writer, discipline is my friend. The only problem with the daily wordcount minimum? The stress. I had constant writer guilt. "I should be writing" was my refrain at all times, and there was even a certain amount of resentment toward anything that took me away from getting my words in (social activities, errands, meals, ANYthing!) It didn't account for off days, or needing to recharge with a good book, or achy wrists or anything that might mean I needed some down time. And even if I got my minimum daily words in, I felt like a slacker. On a good day, when I'm really into my book and in the middle of a scene full of dialogue, I can write 1000 words in an hour. Easy peasy. But of course that wasn't good enough. I needed to keep working. Because 1000 words a day is not FAST enough, for me, when I know I'm capable of killing a first draft in 6-8 weeks, if I really put my mind to it and abandon all other distractions/life. Which meant I wasn't committing, even if I had the discipline of the daily writing. I didn't feel like I was putting my mind to the job.

This January, I changed that. Instead of giving myself a daily minimum, I'm now giving myself a WEEKLY word count goal, and including a two-day weekend in my plans. I aim for 10,000 words for the week, generally with the expectation of writing 2000 words for five days. 2000 words a day is more of a challenge. If I'm not in the middle of an easy scene, or I have to do research, or I'm up against a wall with the manuscript, I can GENERALLY still push through to 2000 words (or more!), but I feel like I'm accomplishing something significant and building momentum. And when I get ahead early in the week, it means that on my Friday (which is Saturday because we keep strange hours at the House of Dillin), I can kick back a little bit early, if I want to, and enjoy my evening doing something social. It makes the social activities and the relaxing a reward for a week's hard work, instead of an interruption to my workflow.

The writer guilt? It's minimized. Of course I still have some days, particularly if I don't make it to 2K and it's the start of my week, where I feel like I should be killing myself to get more words in and write instead of letting my brain work things out while I focus my attention elsewhere (sometimes that's the only way to break through and figure out what comes next!), but my goal is weekly, so I have room for those less productive days, particularly when I write more on the days when I'm in the groove.

And man, it is so much less stressful, knowing I have the weekend to kick back and relax and not think about whatever is driving me crazy within my manuscript. I have two whole days for my brain to work on things in the background while I just have fun, and I come back to work on Tuesday (my Monday) feeling refreshed and ready to go. Two days of guilt-free, stress-free bliss.

So far, it's working like a charm. But I'm curious -- how do the rest of you schedule your writing time? Daily? Weekly? Monthly goals?
*Photo taken by and belongs to me!

Forged by Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1) Tempting Fate (Fate of the Gods, #1.5) Fate Forgotten (Fate of the Gods, #2) Taming Fate (Fate of the Gods, #2.5) Beyond Fate (Fate of the Gods, #3)
Honor Among Orcs (Orc Saga, #1) * Postcards from Asgard * Helen of Sparta
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  1. I think the writing schedule/word count/what-have-you is different for everyone. When I'm working on a book, I don't have a set count or goal, I just know that when the time rolls around, I better be in my chair and ready to work. That's what makes all the difference - if there's a book in progress, I'm there at that time, every single day. When I'm in plotting mode, it's similar, but less restricted.

    It's good to know that you've found a way that works for you, though. Here's hoping it keeps going well. ^_^

    1. Definitely agree it's a personal thing! Some people work better under different circumstances/pressures, for sure!!

      When I'm in the middle of a draft I generally get hyperfocused, too, but now sometimes things come up in the middle of said draft that require me to turn my attention elsewhere (like book releases AHHHH!) so I need a little bit more structure to keep me from losing my mojo!

      thanks for chiming in!!


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