Writing Goals

Pecking Away Old SchoolThat big sigh of relief you heard this morning — that was me! I finished the manuscript for my November 2009 release, SINS OF THE FLESH, and sent it to my editor at Grand Central Publishing. A big woo hoo since the novel had gotten moved up in the production schedule which meant I had to finish it way earlier than expected.

Which leads to this Tuesday’s Tips about writing goals, namely, how to set them and how to keep to them.

When I first got the call about the available slot in November 2009, I thought WOO HOO which was followed by OH MY. Could I finish a book in that time frame? I asked myself which quickly led to a plan — X number of pages a week would lead me to a finished book by X date. That was the plan.

Why haven’t I given you any numbers there, like 60 pages a week? For starters, and as I tell every writer who asks me, there is only one right way to write a book — sit down and write. Whether you write one page a day or five, it’s only wrong if you’ve made a plan for yourself and don’t keep to it.

Why didn’t you keep to it? Too busy? Not in a creative mood? Unrealistic expectations? A combo of all of the above.

While I am now a firm believer that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, the most important thing to keep in mind when setting a writing goal is that your plan be reasonable. Don’t say you are going to write 5 pages a day when you know that in a typical day you only have half-an-hour to write. Unless of course you are going to find more time in that day.

How many pages should you strive to do in a day? Again, there’s no right or wrong. I generally write anywhere from 4 to 10 pages a day during my weekday commutes to my job. More on the weekends when I can get a few more hours of writing done. The key to your success is finding what you can do each week and that’s the key — committing to a reasonable weekly goal.

For example, if you know you can’t write on Mondays and Wednesdays because of family demands, set aside time on the other days and make it part of your regular schedule just like anything else. Let the family know that on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 am to 10 am, you’re writing. Stick to it. If your family sees how committed you are to your writing, they will support you. If they think you’re not serious about it, it will be difficult to get them to respect your desire to write.

Say to yourself, in those two or three days that I write this week, I want to write X pages. (A reasonable X pages remember). Before you know it, the pages will begin to pile up!

I mentioned finding more time to write. How do you do that? Well, what time do you get up now? 8? How about getting up at 7?

Do you write at night? I don’t normally, but when deadlines demand it, I come home from work and after dinner, write for another hour or so to meet the writing goal I’ve set for myself.

How about weekends? If you sleep in late on Saturday or Sunday, could you pry yourself out of bed a little earlier?

You would be surprised at how much time there is for you to get back if you think about your “lost” time each week.

Finally — find a critique or support group and tell them your goals. Tell them how you are doing on your goals and ask them to help you stick to them. As with anything else, a strong support group will help keep you motivated and moving forward.

I hope today’s Tuesday Tip helped!