Hey! I’m back with more ways to improve your writing craft and hone your creative skills.
Today we will discuss how setting a writing goal for every week/month can increase your chances of success, and how it can benefit your life in other ways as well.
We will go over the goal I set for myself, and how that has helped me grow as an author and as a person. I will take you through the steps of how to decide what word-count is best for you, and how setting aside time each day to write can help you create the habit of setting goals and attaining them.
So, let’s get right to it. There are many things to consider when setting aside time to write. For example, I know many of you, if you’re an adult, have jobs, a family, blogs, house chores, and small children. If you’re a teen, like me, you still have things you need to take into account like chores or school, and in some cases, a blog or website of your own.
Now, all these things are very important. And, I would say, most of these things are more important than your writing.
But they are no excuse for having a haphazard writing schedule, and that is what we will be going over today:
How to create a writing goal that fits into your life
How do you do that? How do you choose the amount of words you need to write each day/week? Should you write every day? And what about fitting in all the other things going on in your life? To explain that, I’m going to share with you my journey of writing and publishing my first book.
We begin in December 2013, when I yet again had a new inspiration for a novel.
To start with, the time I took to work on my novel was unplanned, and I didn’t put much effort into it. I got about as far as chapter two before I stopped working on it all together, like what usually happened when I started writing a book. I really had no writing plan, and from that came no progress.
Fast-forward to three or four months later. My family was going on a trip to the zoo, which was in a different state, so we took some things along to do in the car as we rode. Seeing my hardly-started notebook sitting on my shelf, I grabbed it and stuffed it into my bag. After all, writing was a fun way to pass the time, and I had recently finished the last book in a series I was reading, so I didn’t have a go-to novel for the trip.
So, that’s what I did on the trip, and in the hotel the next morning. I wrote, and found that I enjoyed it quite a lot. The next few days after the trip to the zoo, I continued to work on my story. And as two chapters turned to five, and one notebook turned to two, I realized: this has potential. But I still didn’t have a very good writing plan scheduled. I would write when the feeling arose.
It was now the middle of 2014, and I was about seven chapters into my novel. I would write furiously for a week in some months, and then other times I wouldn’t write at all for several weeks. This got me in a bad place. By writing in this manner, I set a habit to give up for a few days to several weeks when I felt I didn’t know what to write, and then when I did know what I wanted to write next, I would get bored with my ideas, and not write them right when the inspiration struck.
So, to force myself out of this habit, I got my notebook(s) and would write every spare moment. Writer’s block? No such thing during this draft. I ploughed through this thing as fast as I could go, and if I felt writer’s block springing up, I would knit my brows and make myself keep on writing even when I didn’t know what to say.
I would find every small piece of time that I had to write, and often I would get into trouble for writing instead of doing my chores or school first. For about two or three months I wrote like this, until I was finished with the first draft.
Okay, so let’s pause right here for a moment. The paragraph above does not hold the key to a good writing schedule either. What I did then was not healthy for me. I would get frustrated easily when the story was not going where I wanted it, and I would snap at my siblings when they interrupted my writing time (which was all the time, since I was writing in notebooks). Can you see where this is leading?
By throwing all of my time into the first draft of my novel, I was spending less and less time interacting with my family, and I was getting myself worked up when I got frustrated writing–but I still kept writing even in that frustration. I didn’t pause to give myself a rest when I got irritated. So, no. spending all your time writing is NOT a good schedule, and it’s unhealthy for you.
Now, let’s resume the story.
So, it was now around October of 2014, and I had these two notebooks filled with a finished story. What now? I knew I wanted it published, but how did I convert it onto the computer so I could do that? I still didn’t have a good writing goal for each day, and I knew I didn’t want to be doing it the same way that I had been; it was just too stressful. With this in mind, I set aside my novel for a couple of hours (I should have waited a couple of weeks, but I was impatient), and then that night I read over it, checking it over for things I wanted to change.
There was A LOT I wanted to change. Characters had to be cut or combined, scenes had to be deleted, typos had to be fixed, plot-holes had to be tied up…I was dismayed at how much work I had to do, added onto the fact that I had to re-write the entire thing on the computer now.
I think I waited a couple days, reading over my book several times. Each time I read it, I became more set on what I wanted to do for the re-write, and each time I also became more determined to finish what I had started.
So about mid-October, I began to write the first draft of it on the computer, changing things that needed to be changed as I went. But I still didn’t have a good writing plan, and I would often skip days between writing, then come back and write for hours on end to make up for it.
November came, and with it? NaNoWriMo. The year before, I had heard of it but it had already started, so I didn’t take part. Essentially, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month” and it is when thousands upon thousands of writers try to write 50,000 words in one month. That’s a novel, people. A first draft of a novel maybe, but a novel none the less.
This time I signed up, and that was when I began to set a goal for myself. By this time, I had about 5,000 words written in the second draft of my novel, so I was ahead of the game. My parents gave me two hours each night to work on my novel during November. So, for a week I was ahead of the word-count that was needed (2000 words a day is what the NaNoWriMo site suggests to reach the goal of 50,000), but as I got further into the month, I started to fall behind.
The month ended, and I had a total of 31, 545 words written. I was devastated. Why couldn’t I write 2000 words in two hours? What was my problem?
The reason behind my slow pace? The word-goal made me insecure. When I knew I had to write a certain amount of words each day, my creative side was pushed down, and I worried more about what I should write and how to write it. Plus, writing for two hours each night forced me to write when maybe I had no time to get ideas.
Come the start of January, I had finished the second draft. But I still wasn’t happy with it. So I re-read it, cut out a few more things, and added a few others. Then I decided I needed to have a specific time to write, and specific days. So I chose. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays I would write for two hours. The other days of the week I would write for this blog, but other than that I would relax and allow myself other creative time.
This made the days I did write more creative, because my brain had time to process what I wanted to say. This also made me enjoy my writing time more, and when I got frustrated I would leave my workspace and do something else.
I wrote faster now that I didn’t have a word-count looming over my head, and I felt at ease. This new strategy was working for me. I felt better when I wrote and often, if inspiration hit, I would write during one of the other four days, just because I wanted to. Now, instead of feeling like I had to get this finished, I wanted to get it finished.
So, what does all this have to do with finding a way to fit writing into your day? Well, find times you know you have free, and set a goal for yourself. It could be one hour, or it could be four; you can do it three days a week or five; your word-count goal could be 2000 words a day, or it could be 100. It’s up to what fits in most comfortably for you and your family.
The moral of my journey through finding how a goal set me up for success is that you need to be aware of what is healthy writing, and what is not. Setting a healthy goal will make you happier, and more organized as a person.
I found that setting a goal with writing made me set other goals as well, such as: “I’m going to read such and such chapters a week from my Bible.” By creating the habit of setting a goal, you accomplish more, faster.
Now, to hear about my journey through the publication of my novel, you’ll have to wait until next month. I’m way over 1000 words for this post, and I’m sure your eyes must be getting tired.
But, I do have an announcement! This book I’ve been telling you about IS published and out today! It’s called Jaded: The SilentWhisperer and it’s out on Amazon Kindle, and as physical copy there as well.
The SilentWhisperer follows the journey of Jade as she struggles to learn how to trust again after being betrayed multiple times, and how she learns that the true meaning of love is not something you feel. You can buy the Kindle version here for $2.99, and if you like the feel of a real book in your hands instead, you can find a physical copy here for $11.00 (plus shipping and handling).
Here’s the one line description: When an orphan girl finds out about a rebel plot to start a war and kill her king, she must travel through betrayal and mistrust to stop a war that never should have started.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading about how I discovered a goal that worked for me. Be sure to check in next month when I tell you my journey through publication!