Writing goals for 2017 (revised)

OK, so I caved. I couldn’t resist making actual wordcount-related writing goals. I mean, yeah, I still think my initial goals are good. It’s just that they’re not so… trackable. I don’t like to mix time goals and wordcount goals in the same spreadsheet, and having two spreadsheets doesn’t work. However, I will try to stick to my initial rule about writing days, to try to get into some sort of habit, and the basic idea is pretty much the same.

The new goals are divided by content. Since my blogging motivation is unstable at best, I decided to include blogging as an actual writing goal. My blog posts seem to average around 500 words, and I figure once a week is a minimum for each of my three blogs plus one extra post per week. Then I have my novel projects, and my short stories, which are basically stories written for the web, or just for fun.

  • Blogging: At least 2000 words (4×500) per week
  • Novel writing/editing: At least 6500 words per week (if I stick to my four writing days per week this will be 1625 words per day, i.e. less than NaNoWriMo).
  • Short stories and snippets: At least 1500 words per week.
  • Total writing, everything put together: 10 000 words per week.

This means:

  • Total writing on each writing day (Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday): 2000 words (1625+375) of fiction.
  • If blogging is included in the above, total wordcount goal for each writing day is 2500 words.
  • Any extra words or writing time is a bonus, not a must.
  • The NaNoWriMo goal is not included.
  • So during the rest of 2017, including this week (47 weeks in total), I’ll have the following figures:
    • 94,000 words’ worth of blog post (roughly 63 new blog posts per blog per week, if counting 500 words per post)
    • 70,500 words’ worth of short stories and snippets (though the figures also include editing, so perhaps half that in reality)
    • 305,500 words’ worth of novels, again including editing/new drafts, excluding NaNoWriMo
    • 355,500 words’ worth of novels including NaNoWriMo

I’m excited to see how well (or badly) this will work, particularly since I haven’t set aside time for worldbuilding and planning. I’m two days into week one, but yesterday wasn’t a writing day. I still wrote 400 words, and cleaned up at home. Did the dishes and everything! I almost feel like an adult.

I also received an orchid yesterday. If anyone wonders, I don’t have green fingers. I’m very curious how long it will last – but I did take very good care of the little note that states how to care for it. I might actually have to start letting some sunlight in instead of having the curtains drawn every hour of the day though…

Anyway. I am now done editing the first chapter of Rogue Sorcery, and things are going well. Slowly, but well. 3349 words in two days, after months of nothing at all. Here’s to keeping up the momentum!

Writerly resolutions

January is the time of the month where plans are made, and you enter the new year full of determination and drive. Well, unless you start the year with mental and work-related chaos and can’t see the point in planning anything. However, while it might be refreshing to work without a deadline, I absolutely suck at it. I need deadlines. But if there’s one thing my stress levels don’t need, it’s more deadlines. On the other hand… I’m getting increasingly sick of being just as far away from my dream as I was last year, or the year before. Aaand it turns out that not having a project to work on, a goal to aim for, is really bad for my mental health. How on earth do you combine all these things?

The answer might be obvious to most other people, but for overachiever and burnout-prone me it’s definitely not. Realistic goals, what’s that? Cutting out something to make time for this new thing I want to do, is that possible? Wow.

Frankly, what do I find more rewarding? Writing, or spending my precious spare time watching mind-numbing stuff on Youtube? I’m sure I can live without watching the latest Buzzfeed video on people testing something that’s not even remotely relevant to me. Maybe.

I could start by having a deadline for the next revision of Rogue Sorcery, or for the plot revisions and the timeline file for the updated plot, but I’m not sure. There’s been so many deadlines for the past year, and while it works well for NaNoWriMo, it hasn’t worked at all for the remainder of the year.

I think I’ve realised why. While the end goal is 50k (or more, in my case) for NaNoWriMo, it’s not what I focus on. What I focus on is my daily goal. Your 1667 words per day, or 3334, or 5000. That’s what I look at in the NaNoWriMo stats, in my spreadsheets. It’s making that particular day green in my wordcount file, not red. Because I know that if I reach or even surpass this target most days, I will reach 50k, or 100k, or 150k. There’s no need to worry about it. Finishing a draft is a completely different beast.

So I’ve decided to make a new type of goal. It might be what everyone has been doing for ages, but it’s new to me. It’s inspired by what you often hear in fitness and/or weight loss circles: Focus on the process, not the goal. Sometimes things happen despite the best of intentions, and you can’t control the outcome nearly as much as you’d like. But you can control what you do on a regular basis to influence the outcome.

I have made the following little set of rules, or perhaps “steps” is a better word. My main idea is to turn one into a habit before I start on the next one, until I get used to making time for writing:

  1. Write something every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. I don’t care if it’s just a sentence, a 5-minute sprint, something you’ll never look at again, write something on any kind of story.
  2. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes writing (actual writing, not plotting or planning) every Tuesday and Wednesday, an hour every Saturday and Sunday. Some of this hour can be used for plotting and/or planning, but minimum 30 minutes are reserved for actual writing. This equals two and a half hours every week, which is the main goal.
  3. Write at least 10k every week. This should be doable within the allotted time periods with my max writing speed, but most days it might require more time.
  4. Resist the urge to increase the word count goal (even if it’s fine to actually write more – it just shouldn’t be a must).

I admit it’s tempting to plan on writing every single day of the week, but frankly, with my timetable, mental health and other projects, it’s just not feasible. For example, on Thursdays I usually don’t even have time to make dinner before I have to go to bed. Insisting on writing on those days anyway would be asking for a disaster.

So there it is. My new 4-step program to actually getting the book (and my other projects) written. Do you have a plan for your writing this year?

The “Help, I need to catch up” NaNoWriMo update

We are now more than halfway into NaNoWriMo, and I’m behind. I managed to keep up with my wordcount goal, barely, until a couple of days ago, despite having rather too little time in which to write. But, surprise surprise, the combo conferences+translation jobs isn’t extremely good for getting large wordcounts – any free time was eaten up by getting the translation done. I guess it didn’t help that I finished my second story 10k before I was meant to (plotting led to a better story, but alas far less padding).

This year my goal is 250k. It’s overly ambitious, since I am far more busy than last year, when I got my personal best at 175k. 250 is equivalent to 8,333 words per day, and currently my average is 7,461 words, if I don’t count the zero words I’ve written today. If you consider that the regular NaNo goal is 1,667 I’m very happy – and 7,461 adds up to more than 221k in total, a lot more than my personal best. Besides – I have vacation next week, in which I intend to write a lot.

I have three stories lined up this year, where I have written two. The first was a fantasy story of a guy and his revenge plot that didn’t quite go as planned. The revenge that is, not the story. The second was an urban fantasy story, about a man who isn’t quite who he seems and who gets in a rather big problem (which would describe half of all stories ever, perhaps). I have tried to write this story for years now, and finally I found a plot that worked.

The last story is a second draft, actually, or rather a second first draft – the plot is so drastically changed that there is almost nothing left of the first draft except the beginning (which is already written and won’t be counted in my wordcount). I have written about the story quite a few times – it is Rogue Sorcery, which i initially wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2011 or 2012, I think. It is about a sorceress who has lost her powers, an emperor who tries to protect his country and someone who is wreaking all sorts of havoc. I am going to exchange manuscripts with Cicilie on the 12th (eeeek, less than a month away), at which point the 2nd draft probably should be somewhat finished… The main problem now is that it will probably not end up at 130k, which is what I need to reach 250k, so I might have to improvise a fourth story. We will see!