Monday, May 28, 2012

Reevaluating Your Goals

We're all really good at giving ourselves crap and I'm certainly no exception. Take for instance, my writing goals.

My Current Goal
I set a goal to write 2,000 words per day, every day, for a grand total of 14,000 per week. (With this goal, an average of 300 words per page, 8 pages per chapter, would give me almost a chapter a day.)

I was able to make this goal once upon a time, so it's reachable, right? Apparently not.
Super Genius

My Reality
What I'm currently writing is 700-1,000 words per day (new word count including words cut during editing), 3-5 days a week, for maybe 3,000-5,000 per week. That means, every day I'm failing by half. And every week I'm screwing up by even more than that.

Fail. *Sigh* Fail, fail, fail.


Be Prolific or Die
Kevin J. Anderson, one of the most prolific writers I know (of), said he writes between 300,000 and 500,000 words every year. Presenting the LDStorymakers keynote address this year, he said, "In today's market, you can't make a living writing one book a year. If you want to make a living as a writer, you have to be prolific or die." (I'm really hoping he didn't mean 500,000 per book. Next year, he has seven books coming out. Dude would get an aneurism.)

So I thought, "I'll bet Kevin J. Anderson does at least 14,000 words per week."

Yeah... Have I ever mentioned how bad I am at math?
14,000 words X 52 weeks = 728,000 words
Whoa. If I was making goal, I'd be schooling Kevin 'Wordsmith' Anderson.

As it turns out, 500,000 a year comes out to about 1,380 per day. So WHY am I beating myself up? (Someone check my math because I'm feeling pretty cool right now.)

Why Goals Are Important
Every week in the real world, my boss and I have a goal that I'll work 40 hours every week (okay... okay... it's an expected result, but stick with me). My boss and I may disagree on what 'work' entails, but I like cash and he likes production, so we make it work. There are even some hefty penalties if I don't make my goal.

Goals set a requirement for something we want to attain. Regardless of the type of goal, it all boils down to your target. And usually, your goal will need to be broken down into smaller goals. 

Want to be a certain weight? Maybe you should drop drinking 44oz of pop a day and watch your portion sizes. Want to run the Boston Marathon? Watch your diet and start timing your mile (really, I have no idea how you prep for a marathon...). Want to write a book? Remember, writers write, so start writing and keep a list of what authors you like do in their work.

Some Famous Things To Keep In Mind
Tracy Hickman said at CONduit 2012, "Everyone has to find their own way, but its never the same way. Everyone has to pay their own dues, but they're never the same dues." YOU have to find your way. You are responsible for whether you succeed or not. If something isn't working, then try something else. Just keep MOVING!

Poet Kathleen Norris said, "Before you begin a thing remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to forsee are ahead.... You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin." A lot of things will come up that will interfere with your goals, but if you're going to be a functioning human, you have to do as Laura Hickman said, "You have to give yourself permission to do something you love." Even if its only tiny steps forward (250 words per day, or 100, or even 50!), do what you love.

Attainable Goals
So, I'm changing my writing goals to something more realistic (but still challenging): 1,000 per day, 5,000 per week, 20,000 per month. And since I prefer to write YA (Young Adult), that's a rough draft (70,000 words) every three and a half months! Almost four a year!

Writing Avengers
One of the most critical things in making successful goals is making them achievable. With my new goals, will there be days when I nail down 3,000+ words a day? Of course! And those will be VERY good days, but it's not fair to set my 'high water mark' as my everyday goal. Doing that only sets me up to fail and that just makes me beat myself down. When I feel good about what I'm achieving, I'm looking forward. And something tells me, all of us are like that.

So... heads up! Set some attainable goals, and remember, as James Broughton said, "The only limits are, as always, those of vision."


  1. Uh, yeah... 2,000 words a day? You're crazy. Most of the pros that I've heard offer a word count per day say around 1,000. This is what I've always tried for. Usually easy enough to hit it. Good luck with the new goals.

    Now I just have to get back to reaching mine.

  2. I'm thinking that (for me) having an achievable weekly or monthly goal is the starting point. I've got the BIG, LONG-TERM goals, but not the little ones that will lead to that end. Now it's time to do that. But, as Kathleen Norris pointed out, interruptions WILL HAPPEN. I think that I'm going to shoot for 5,000 words per week, and 200,000 per year. Some days will be great. Others just aren't going to work. There will be some periods when I'm learning, researching, vacationing, doing something else that is important. This will recognize 12 possible non-writing (not unproductive, just not word-count, weeks.

    WRITE-ON brothah. Make it so!

  3. I think those are great goals! And 14,000 a week is pretty steep no matter how you look at it, especially for a working dad. Way higher than my current writing goals, and I consider myself a rather productive person!

    You can do it, and your book will be amazing. You're pretty darn close, looking at your "current projects" bar!

    (Speaking of which, on my current-projects bar, the "Current Projects" title has a lot of spacing after it and I don't know why... not that you would know either, but if you do, enlighten me. XD )

  4. I've done the crazy goals before and beat myself up about not making it. But the idea of being able to consistently reach my goals has been out of reach for a while. I don't think I care less, it is simply that I haven't done the hard work of evaluating the correct goals, and two I haven't invested the time to make my goals work the way I would like them to. Thank you so much for this blog. Hopefully it will help me to keep focused and do the work I need to to find success.

  5. Ah goals. Love them. Hate them. Then I go eat Oreos. Really though, good luck! I want to read your finished manuscript, and since it's all about me, you'd better get going...


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