New Year Firing Up…
The key is to set some goals. Not talking about some sort of silly New Year’s Resolution. I’m talking about real production goals with your writing.
You can and should also set business goals, but for this post let me just stay focused on production, the most important aspect of any writing business.
Remember: Goals are something that are in your control and that push you toward a desired objective.
How to Set a Goal?
Start with the objective. Then backtrack to set the daily and monthly goals.
Example: Say your objective is to write four novels in 2017. Each novel around 60,000 words.
So back that up, divide it down into chunks that can be handled easily. Four novels is one novel every three months. So you need to take the 60,000 words and divide by 3 to get 20,000 words per month.
Keep chopping it up. Say you can write 5 days a week, 20 days total in a month. So every writing day you need to write 1,000 words. If you write 1,000 words in an hour, that’s one hour of work five days a week to produce four novels in a year.
That is something most people can do if they get out of their own way. (And please don’t ask me about rewriting. If you are writing sloppy and killing your book with a rewrite, not much I can help you with, sadly. Try to fix that deadly problem by the end of 2017 so you can write more in 2018. That would be a good goal for 2017.)
The Objective Problem
Most writers, me included, have trouble even trying to detail out an objective for a year. For some, the critical voice stops them from thinking something is possible. For people like me, new and shiny are problems. If I have done an objective once, why bother again?
Every writer is different and most objectives are not as easily worked out as four novels per year. If you have a clear objective that is simple like that, celebrate.
So let me use myself as an example this year that maybe some of you can take some hints from in setting your objectives and goals.
For me, my objective is to keep Smith’s Monthly going and basically on time. That means by next October, nine months from now, I need to produce eleven novels and about fifty new short stories.
And that would be to just stay even. I would rather get out ahead of the schedule, honestly.
So, following my own advice, I sat down and did the math. Eleven novels would be around 500,000 words at my normal novel length. Fifty short stories at around 5,000 words per story would be 250,000 words.
That’s about 750,000 words of fiction, not even Pulp Speed One (One million words)
So I know I can do that. And fill that objective. But it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
Objective Problem: Oh, oh… My objective wasn’t big enough to push me, and thus I would end up not giving the writing a focus and thus I would miss even that goal.
So tonight I backed down to the daily level and tried to come at the objective problem from the other direction.
I first asked myself one simple question: How much time in my schedule can I give fiction writing every day? Real time, consistent time? Even with all the things I have planned coming up, all the stuff at WMG, workshops, exercise, and travel.
At first the answer was four hours, then I backed that down to a safer three hours a day, seven days a week. I could get to my writing computer by 2 a.m. and get three hours in safely.
Most nights I could get there around 1 a.m. and get four or five, but not every night. And even some nights I can get there earlier in the evening. But not that often, sadly.
So three hours it was.
Then I looked at my writing speed and realized that I could manage in three hours or so about 4,000 words, either on a novel or a short story, without much problem.
So that would be the nightly goal. 4,000 words per night minimum. (I work better with word counts, not hours.)
So I did the math starting from there to see if it gave me an objective.
4,000 words x 365 days = 1,460,000 words. Pulp Three Speed. (1,400,000)
And that would be just fiction. And that would mean I would write about two million words in 2017 total. Pulp Speed Six, maxed out, basically.
Suddenly I had a challenge. And an objective and a goal.
The goal is to start a new streak and write at least 4,000 words a day of fiction. I will add the streak to the nightly tally starting tomorrow (1st).
Second Problem: Learning.
I have an intense desire to keep learning and getting better. And learning is critical to the business side as well as the writing side.
So I stepped back and realized that during this coming year I needed to put together some workshops that really challenged me. And do some new lectures for the same reason. Also, the Anthology workshop and the Business Master Class are massive learning experiences.
So I laid out a schedule for myself for workshops. And went back to my old way of learning during times away from the workshop stuff. I want to learn one new thing every day about writing or the business of writing. I have discovered in the past that just having that attitude opens up all sorts of learning every day.
So I have the objective there and a method to achieve it. Check.
Third Problem: Exercise
Since June I have lost about 35 pounds and I am down over a few years about 75 pounds from my heaviest weight. I have twenty more pounds to go and a solid running goal of a marathon in November and a half-marathon every month up until the marathon.
So I have a running goal objective set and a few goals along the way. But to prepare to run a marathon safely takes hours and focus I have not been giving it over the last few months.
So I looked at the 4,000 words and realized that if I set 4 miles as a minimum goal every day of distance, either walking or running, I would make the marathon without much problem and get rid of the last twenty pounds.
And then I realized that I have a very easy-to-remember daily goal. 4 by 4 by 1.
Four miles and four thousand words and one new thing.
Every day. The focus, the start of two new streaks going into 2017. And I might also detail out the detail I learned on certain days.
All of it will be great fun!
And that’s how I came up with my new focus and goals to get to my objectives by the end of 2017.
Hope that helps some in setting your goals and objectives.
2017 is going to be a really fun year.