W.O.L.F. Sector
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

News Archive for July 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Setting a Daily Word Goal

Written by Kodi Wolf at 6:13 AM

In between writing and living my life, I like to read books about learning to write better. A lot of times I end up disappointed, either because I don't get any new or inspiring information or because the information doesn't work for me. But sometimes I find books with really useful info, like techniques for looking at a particular creative process from a different angle or inspiration to keep me chained to my computer, especially when trying to come up with the next word, let alone the next line, is scaring the crap out of me. I've recently found several good ones, but one of them in particular has made me rethink my position on setting goals and keeping to a deadline.

Normally, I think of deadlines as these horrible things that loom just on the horizon and then suddenly are sitting right there in front of me, pointing fingers and making me feel like a failure since I of course didn't meet it when it came due.

Now though, I think I was just looking at them the wrong way and also setting goals that were way beyond my grasp. I found a really simple system laid out in The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell and his reasoning made sense to me. Instead of looking at the goal as this impossible thing I'm trying to reach, break it down into small, manageable bits, and when you reach the goal, you'll be able to see yourself making progress, day by day, so you can fight that voice in the back of your mind telling you you're not accomplishing anything. (That's not quite how the guy put it, but that's what I got from it.)

So, I've created a spreadsheet that calculates how many words I write each day. I'm fudging it a little, not with how many words I write, but with when, since my 'day' tends to cross the dateline, but so far, it's been going pretty well. The way it works is that I set a word goal for each day, multiply that for the week (5 days), then for the month (4 weeks). My spreadsheet not only tells me if I've met the goal for the day, but also the week and the month. Last week, since my sister and her two kids came to visit, I only wrote for three out of the five days, but I still managed to make my weekly goal because I surpassed the daily goals enough to make up for the two days I didn't write. And though I didn't make my goal for one of the days this week (I was revising and only added 78 new words), I still feel good because I can see that I at least got that much done. (Plus, I've written double my goal today, so I've already made up for it.)

I'm just really liking getting to see the progress I'm making on The Trine. It's also helping in that because writing can be really scary for me at first, but I calm down as time goes on, I'm sitting down to write with the idea in mind that I'll just try to make the goal, since it's not that high (650 words, about 8 solid paragraphs or around a page and a half), but then I calm down and just go with the flow and end up writing more than I thought I could.

It's not just the goal-setting and progress-tracking, though. The techniques I'm learning are really having an impact on my writing. I'm looking at things from more angles than I think I was before and as the ideas flow, I find I want to write them out, shape them, and just see what I can come up with. And what I'm coming up with, I'm really enjoying. Sure, I throw half of it out (maybe more), but what I keep I really like.

So anyway, I'm still plugging away at The Trine. I realize some people probably wish I would work on something else (according to the poll on the home page, the favorite appears to be The Vampire Hunter), but honestly, I'm trying not to think about it. I'm just happy I'm writing.