The second day of posts about getting yourself ready for the new year and how to think about goals. But first, some basics about writing that will help you more than you can imagine when setting a new year’s goal for writing.
Heinlein’s BUSINESS Rules.
1) You must write.
2) You must finish what you write.
3) You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.
4) You must mail your story to an editor who will pay you money.
5) You must keep it in the mail until someone buys it.
Those darned rules are so simple. Right? Yeah, right.
Heinlein didn’t claim that these rules would help you with craft. These are business rules and he called them that.
Goals, by and large, are business goals. You know, the ones I called “Dreams” last post. To be a bestseller, to sell a first novel, to have five books on the rack at Safeway at the same time. All business goals.
Learning craft in fiction comes from writing, from constant study of other writers, by going and listening to professional writers talk about craft, by reading How-To… books by the hundreds. And then writing, practicing, working out the kinks in the craft and learning how to tell a story so that someone else will like it and buy it.
Yes, I said the evil word. And I’ll say it again. Practice.
Goals I’m going to be helping you set are goals to help you practice. You can’t go anywhere in the arts or music without practicing. Sorry. Same goes for writing, but I’ll try to not call it that much, since writers hate that word. We all seem to think that every word we write is golden. Nope, just practice. And sometimes we get paid for our practice, which is really nifty, trust me.
Later on I will try to set out ways to set “craft” goals. In other words, goals that help with your craft, like making sure that there are all five senses every two pages and things like that. But for the moment, let’s focus on business goals.
Besides, putting it simply, by setting business goals and getting your butt firmly planted in the chair, with pages coming from your computer, finished pages, your craft will improve if you keep learning.
So, I’m talking about business goals here, production of product goals in crass business terms.
Now, if you haven’t read the previous post on motivation, do so now. I’ll wait…
Got the time figured out, where you can carve 15 minutes here, an hour there, out of your schedule every day? You must have this and have those around you informed that when you start, those carved times are important. That will be tough, but important to try to establish. More on people around you later on in these posts.
Got how long it takes you to write a single page of fiction? Are you slow at 30 minutes or fast at 10 minutes? Chances are you will be between those two numbers. Almost all writers I have ever met are.
So, now, it’s time to do some math.
I’m going to start with a big dream first and work backwards to a real goal using simple math and following Heinlein’s Rules.
Big Dream: Write and mail one new novel per year.
Novel is 90,000 words. Divide that by 250 words on a page and you get 360 pages.
Now, say you can write a page of fiction slowly in 30 minutes. To write a novel, you have to work at it for 180 hours. Okay, here comes the stomping elephant again. That seems huge and impossible.
But look at it another way. Your dream is to write a new book every year. 360 pages at one page per day is 360 days. Less than one year.
Thirty minutes per day writing, following Heinlein’s Rules, will finish a novel in one year.
Let that sink in for a moment. That sounds very possible, doesn’t it, even with kids and family and a job? If you really want to write, you can carve out 30 minutes per day.
Now, let’s be real a little more. Not many of us, some, but not many, can be that consistent in pacing, so I suggest the following.
Two pages per writing day and miss half the days of the year. Carve out one hour on writing days, take the weekends off, takes weeks off on vacation, take time when kids are sick, and so on. At two pages per day at thirty minutes per page, one hour total per day when writing, you will write a novel in 180 days of writing scattered throughout the year and have the rest of the year off.
Not so impossible, is it? Math is a wonderful friend in this goal setting time.
Think about how you could carve out an hour a day to get two pages done and then imagine that by the end of the year, missing half the year, you will still finish a novel. It is simple and very possible.
But…but…but…. Yeah, I can hear all the excuses and reasons and myths now. Go read the myth posts I already have up, then hold on to your excuses that keep you from writing. I’m going to pound on them over the next few days.
Back tomorrow with Motivation #3.