Thursday, January 15, 2015

Writing Goals: Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?


Since we're still within the time period I like to call the "Resolution Rubicon," I thought a post about writing goals would be quite apropos. Plus it would allow me to keep my resolution to have at least one new blog post a month. ;-)

I never used to set writing goals (other than to finish the book I was writing and then start another one!) but we started writing down monthly goals in my local writers' guild then reporting to the group the following month on whether or not we'd met them. I really liked having that accountability. Of course, I try to keep my goals easily within reach (write one chapter of my WIP and work on editing), but my intention is to challenge myself a little more each month.

So when my fellow Wild Rose Press author, Louise Lyndon, was looking for blogs to visit on her blog tour for Of Love and Vengeance, I thought this topic would make a great guest post.

Welcome, Louise. What say you?


When Joyce first approached me about writing a post on setting goals for the new year, I am not going to lie to you, it sent me into a tailspin. I am a PANTSTER. I do not plan. I started to hyperventilate—perhaps I could make something up (after all, I am a fiction author!) But, once I had a coffee with an obscene amount of sugar, I calmed down enough to realise that yes, even though I am a pantster, I also do plan. Kind of...

Let me start off by saying I personally think there is no right way or wrong way to set goals. Everyone is different, so it stands to reason that everyone will have different ways to plan their goals. What I do think is, it is important to have goals, because without goals how do you know where you’re going?

But what happens if the thought of trying to work out what you’re going to do for the next 365 days (a little less now, given today’s date!) sends you to the nearest darkened corner with your thumb in your mouth, rocking back and forth?

Well, don’t plan for the next three hundred and something days. For me, that is too far in advance and too big to comprehend. Break it down into manageable chunks. What is it you want to do? How will you achieve it? Can you measure whether or not you have achieved your goal? What small steps do you need to make that will get you closer to your end goal?

For me, I want to finish writing the follow up to Of Love and Vengeance. I want to be able to have that with my publisher by the end of March at the latest. So, in the next 60 days, I need to write about 42,700 words. How am I going to achieve that? It’s all very well saying that’s what I want to do, but doing it is a different story. Okay, so here goes.

I need to be realistic. I have a day job and I know I am not going to come home after a hard day in the office and write for eight hours. That’s not going to happen, so why set that as a goal? That would just be setting yourself up to fail. What I do know is that I reckon I can manage two hours of writing after work. I also know I am easily distracted (curse you, Dr. Phil—I have to get my daily fix!) but that is a wasted hour. So, I have set my daily goal to go to the library straight after work. I do not go home first, I do not just ‘have a rest’ or get distracted by Dr Phil and then go to the library—do not pass go, do not collect $200—I go straight to the library. Goal one achieved. Go to the library.

OK, so I am now at the library. I cannot stare at a blank screen for two hours. How much do I need to write in those two hours to reach my end goal of 42,700 words? 711.66 words to be exact. Give or take. Wow, I can actually do that! A little over 700 words in two hours—that’s only 350 words an hour! Hmm, me thinks this 42,700 is suddenly manageable, achievable, and measurable. Suddenly needing to write such a large chunk of words isn’t so daunting. Why? Because I’ve broken the end goal into smaller goals. The smaller goal is manageable (realistically speaking.) My goal to write 700 words is measurable because, well, we have word count to count the words!

So, this is how a pantster, scared to look too far into the year ahead, sets goals and plans how to achieve them.

Why not share your goal-setting stories? I would love to hear how you all not only set your goals, but how you achieve them as well!


You can contact Louise by e-mail at louise_lyndon@yahoo.com, or find her on her Web site, Facebook, or Twitter. And be sure to check out her book here and enter below to win a copy!


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~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true!

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16 comments:

  1. 700 a night doesn't seem a great deal and that seems to be a magic number for many writers. Doable and not too overwhelming. In fact, a colleague of mine shared his excel spreadsheet [which updates and tallies] for us to share.

    However, weekends are out for me [including Friday] which means the other four days have to almost double up, which seems far more daunting.

    That said, measurable goals are essential if we want to succeed.

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    1. Hi Madeline. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hear you about the weekends! I'm aiming to fit an hour on Saturday and Sunday into my goal plan - but having a serious debate with myself as it'll mean I'll have to get up an hour earlier!

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  2. Hi Joyce, thanks for having me as your guest. It's very much appreciated! It's great to be here!

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  3. Thanks for visiting, Louise! Loved your post. I'm kind of a cross between pantster and plotter. A plotpanter? A pantplotster? A potted plant? Whatever I am, I plan a little then write until I get stuck, then plan some more.

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  4. 700 words a day is a good number, Louise. My local RWA group decided to have daily writing sprints with a minimum of 500 words. If we made 1000, super! But we would try for at least 500, which wasn't nearly as daunting for some. Me? I can easily make 1500 words or more per hour when my characters are talking and the words flow continuously. But that's also assuming my granddaughter who lives with us isn't home, or is home but isn't in need of, well whatever a nine yo might be in need of, and if my 70+ yo fil--whom also lives with us-- doesn't decide he wants to come into my office aka the living room to "visit." And by visit, I mean speak in garbled, no nonsense sounds because he had a stroke four years ago (hence why he lives with us). One of those visits can easily throw me off my writing carousel for two days if he can't get his point across and gets frustrated. Then is when 500 words just as well be a million. So my goals have to be extra fluid and flexible. I have to set a weekly word count goal, say 4k-5k a week, to even seem manageable. I tried to make a 2-year goal last January... E.P.I.C. F.A.I.L. I won't ever do that again. At least not to the extent I did last year. lol

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    1. Hi Calisa, thanks for stopping by. It sounds as if you have a lot on your plate. I like what what you said about your goals having to be fluid and flexible. Very wise!

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  5. Your plans are so admirable! Hope you make your goals--you can do it!

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  6. I love 700 words a day for a goal. I jumped from 500 words a day to 1,000 words a day and failed. Day job, kids, husband, etc got in the way but I'm so going to try 700 words. Thanks

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    1. Hi Kayden, thanks for stopping by. I once had 1000 words as my goal and each time I didn't reach it I felt like a failure. I think it's important to have realistic goals because you're more likely to achieve them.

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  7. I love the idea of 700 words a day. I do NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) every year and it requires nearly 1400 words a day to get done in a month. I find myself worn out at the end and unable to keep up that sort of pace with a story that makes sense. On the other hand if I know I only have to do 700 words, that I can do and I often end up with more.

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    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for stopping by. I've always wanted to do NaNoWriMo but it freaks me out! I admire anyone who does it. And you are right, knowing I only have to do 700 words often means I end up closer to the 1500 mark!

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  8. Hi Louise, I aim for 1000 words a day and often fall short. 700 sounds like a more realistic goal. Best of luck with Of Love and Vengeance. It sounds delicious. Joanne :)

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    1. Hi Joanne. Thanks for stopping by. Try 700 words and see how you go - never know, by dropping the word count you may actually end up smashing it!

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  9. Great blog. I really enjoy hearing other writers' methods to stay organized and tuned into their goals.

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  10. Hi Jennifer! Me too - I pick up some useful tips by reading other writers organisational methods.

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