Writing Goals

Serendipity - kismet - fate - coincidence - whatever you want to call it.

A few days ago I was sitting at the table, thinking about my story Winter Illusion which had began writing for the 2008 National Novel Write Month. In December I had decided to set a writing goal for 2009 of 1000 words a day. The major part of the goal would be finishing the first draft of Winter Illusion (2008 Nano), editing and hopefully completing Floating on the Surface (2007 Nano), researching and writing 2009 Nano story. The rest of the goal would come from blogging and college essays

In December I managed to write 8700 words, January fizzled to a total of 881 and so far for February, I've written 700 words towards completing Winter Illusion. I was feeling really bad about not writing when I figured out I have managed to write 600 words a day on average for my blog. So, I have been writing...just not where it really counts.

During Nano I had been getting up everyday between 6:00 to 6:30 (thank you, cats) and writing for a couple hours until James got up. December I continued trying to get up about the same time. But during the month with Christmas, Christmas vacation, Father breaking his leg and my taking over running the shop, I started getting up a little later, writing a little less. Come January, I was getting up, throwing the cats outside and sleeping until 8:00 - I was tired.

Now, Father has recovered enough that I have returned back to my normal two day a week working schedule and I'm feeling less stressed and more rested. I find myself getting up, thinking twice about throwing the cats out the door and climbing back into bed. The past few days I have woken naturally at 6:00 and not been able to get back to sleep. So, I'm ready. Evidentally, whether it be God or coincidence, I have come across some interesting articles and blog posts that have lead the way.

During Musing Mondays last week I came across a wonderful post called writing vows written by Kate of The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me. She had a wonderful visual of dogs being fenced in or trapped to leaping joyfully over fences, which for me - being a very visual person - hit me right between the eyes. The point being you can't let life stop you from writing. Life hadn't stopped me from writing on the blog, but it had stopped me from writing on my novel. She equated writing vows to marriage vows and said:

"But here's the important thing - writing is the world's most forgiving spouse and will take you back every time. Say you're sorry, promise never to do it again (although you know you will), and then get back to work."

Beautiful. So I start thinking about what I had written so far and wanting to change a few things. Then I receive my weekly email from Writer's Digest and the very first article is "Get Messy with your First Draft" I had been at a sticking point in the story and had thought about jumping ahead to another scene that had been floating about in my head. I'm basically a sequential writer, because that's just me - Organized, follow the straight line, type of person. However, I have taken to reading outside the box lately, branching out - being opened mind - reading different genres, new authors, etc. Shouldn't I do the same thing with writing?

In "Get Messy with your First Draft" Elizabeth Sims writes "For your writing to come alive—to be multi-dimensional—you must barter away some control. The rewards are worth it." Just write - ignore sequence, write what comes to mind, don't edit. Which was what National Novel Write Month had been about. Writing without editing, getting the words out on to the page. It didn't matter whether it was good or bad.

"Why’s it so important to suspend judgment when writing? Because that freedom opens you to the surprising stuff you never saw coming; stuff that makes you smile as you sit there in the coffee shop, your mug of joe cooling because you’ve forgotten to take a sip in 15 solid minutes."

Okay, so what I need to do is go back to turning off the internal editor, sit my butt down in the chair and let it flow. During Nano I had been writing every single day. Afterwards I cut back, working on the story only during the week days and taking the weekend off. Something happened, it just didn't feel right and I had difficulty starting again on Monday. Then it all when to heck... Conclusion I need to write every single day.

Tim Hallinan, author and songwriter, wrote and taught a course Finishing Your Novel and posted it on his website. He says: "1)Write every day, 2), Write something that entertains and/or amuses you, 3) Remember to focus on characters before story, 4) Keep writing no matter what kind of trouble you encounter, and 5) Finish." The article contains a lot of information and well worth taking the time to read. I am still working my way through it and gleaning much information.

Keep writing no matter what. Then I started to think - is 1000 words a day reasonable. I was able to complete 61457 words during November for Nano which equated to about 2000 words. However, that was pushing it, putting all my concentration into writing and letting a lot of other things go by the wayside. Then I remember author J.D. Rhoades post "Faster, Faster" on Murderati. He had asked the question: "what do you consider a good word count for the day?" It was comforting to see many of the authors wrote between 500 to 2000 words a day.

This post is approximately 1000 words and it took me about 2 hours to write. However, I was editing and pulling information from the internet and thinking through what I wanted to say, rather than just free flowing writing. I'm ready to get back in the saddle and work on the story. So are my characters. I have had the imagery in my mind of Winter and Dom sitting at her kitchen table, (where I left them last) drumming their fingers on the table and waiting. Waiting for me to put fingers to the keyboard and let their story continue.

What type of writer are you? Seat of the pants, just let it flow, jumping all over the place or sequential, start to finish.


  1. I'm not a writer, so I can't really address most of what you've said in this interesting post.

    But whenever I'm stuck, I remember a scene in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In it, the father and son are sitting at a table in a cafe. The son wants to write a letter home to his mother, but he just sits and stares at the blank paper. The father asks what's wrong. The son says he just doesn't know how to start or doesn't know what to say or how to say it (I read the book about 30 yrs ago, so I forget the exact setup). The father says something like: Forget writing the letter, just write down the things you want to tell your mom about, don't think about how to say it or the order, just write the what. The son starts this and an hour later he's still writing.

    I use that trick often and I'm amazed at how it really helps. Maybe it would help you.

  2. Thanks Beth - I'll have to remember that. My husband was talking about "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance just the other day. Will have to read it.

  3. It's a really different kind of book, and I think it can be read a lot of levels. I'd love to see your reactions to it.

  4. I came over to read your teaser and got caught up in this post. It really moved me. It is so heartfelt. You are already an amazing writer as this post proves. (I read your blog about once a week but don't always comment. Sorry.) The real teaser is what is going to happen to Winter and Dom after they leave the kitchen table.

    I love what wise-woman Beth had to say. I also think you need to declare another month of Nano just for yourself. For me, deadlines do the trick and usually some kind of external deadline. If you are that way, perhaps you could find a way to post something here that says how many words/day or chapters completed or whatever your measure. You could use some portion of your blog as a way of holding yourself accountable, knowing that others will be checking on you.

    These are just suggestions. You know what will work for you. In any event, know there are people cheering you on. I'd love to read the story.

  5. Thanks for the shout out! I've found I can write a lot faster if I do it in longhand then worry about editing and revising when I transcribe. I can blaze through about 2000 words in an hour and a half to 2 hours. I end up changing a lot of them, of course, but I get more of a sense of progress.

    I'm a guy, by the way :-) .

  6. Margot,

    Thank you for the kind words and suggestions. I appreciate it. I have considered doing my own personal nano. I think the best part about the Nov Nano was having the accountability and going after that goal of 50k. I need to use my blog to post goals which will make me more accountable. Have a generic yearly goal just doesn't cut it. I need to make daily, weekly and monthly goals to shoot for. Easy to do.

  7. J.D.

    Whoops, Did I say she. I will fix that right away. Sorry and thanks for bringing that to my attention. I'll have to try to longhand method and see how it works out.


  8. Beth,

    I asked hubby last night. He does still have the book. Will have to add it to my Spring reading challenge list.

  9. No worries. Great blog, by the way.

  10. good luck with your writing :)
    sadly, i'm not a writer. I have too little of an attention span to even try.
    Get Messy with your First Draft sounds interesting.

  11. I wish I could label the type I am. Hmmmm....guess I am all over the place then...lol!

    This year, I have finally gotten my act together. I allot three hours in the morning, each day can be something different as long as I stick with my current story. I'm manic, so ideas ignite out of me like a roman candle on those special days. :( It's the rest that's the problem.

    So this year, my goal is to get a novel done, hopefully a finished one. Doesn't matter if it's good or not - JUST GET IT DONE.

    I won't go as far to say I am proud of myself, but I'm doing better than last year. ;)


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