On Goals

I think it’s important to set goals in writing. I don’t mean goals like “Write the next Great American Novel”, or anything like that, either. I do have a list of writing goals, some of which I’ve already accomplished, but many more that I hope to. Finishing the first drafts of Witches and Shadows of Stone are both on there, although on the list Shadows is simply called “the nomad story”. There are other stories on the list right now, five to be exact, and I’m actually working on one of them for my 2YN story. But there are other things on the list as well. Like finding an agent and hopefully getting lucky enough to not have to work full-time at the day job. Stuff like that. Those are the big writing goals, as far as I’m concerned. These goals are always in the back of my mind, and they keep me going.

But what really keeps me motivated are the smaller goals, like word count goals. For most of the first draft of Witches, I didn’t have any sort of goals. When I sat down to write, I just wrote until I felt like stopping. Some days I tried to finish up a chapter, but that was as well defined as my goals got. That is possibly the reason it took me so long to finish writing Witches (that and the total lack of an outline). I was a bit better prepared when I started Shadows last year for NaNo. I had a phase outline, and I had set myself the personal goal of 80k words (Yes, for my first NaNo. I can’t help it; I’m a little bit of an overachiever. I’m trying to overcome that!), which came down to 20k a week, or about 2.9k a day. That was a pretty high goal for someone who had never bothered to keep up with word count before. But it went well, and I hit my goal. Some days I didn’t manage to write at all, but there were a couple of days I hit 7.5k, and I was really proud. Seeing the word count go up was enough to keep me motivated, to keep my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. And that’s the important part, right? That you’re actually writing. It could be crappy first draft material, but you’re writing, and it’s so much easier to fix something that’s actually written than something that’s not.

I’m currently working on my 2YN story. I don’t have a daily word count goal, but my weekly goal is 5k. Now, I type fast, and I have a phase outline for this story, so it shouldn’t be too hard to hit a measly 5k. Sadly, I’ve been behind since the first week. Only four weeks in, and I’ve been behind for a month. Sigh. The good news is, I should be caught up today. I only needed 3k to catch up, and I’ve already done 1k of that, so my numbers should all add up by tonight. Which is good, because I hate being behind. It discourages me, makes it harder for me to work.

I figure if I’m caught up on the writing, maybe that will motivate me to work on the editing. I need to finish this draft of Shadows, but I’ve pretty much lost my thoughts on where I was. And then there’s the looming specter of editing the behemoth that is Witches. So, if anyone has any ideas on how set motivating goals for editing, I’d love to hear them.

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