Weekly Goals: They're Not Just for NaNoWriMo

With my deadline looming, it's time to put the hammer down on an ambitious goal: finish the draft before next Monday.

I've always been a big proponent of breaking down huge, overwhelming tasks into manageable chunks with monthly, weekly, and at times daily goals. These goals needn't be back-breakers--indeed, if you want writing to be a sustainable lifestyle and no just an annual National Novel Writing Month binge that leaves you with bleeding eyeballs, carpal tunnel, and an aversion to writing for the remainder of the year, you'll need to come up with a plan that you can live with longterm.

Once I've finished the early, exploratory work on a book and am getting down to completion mode, I try to tack on just a little bit more than the lazy side of my brain thinks it can do for my goal-setting. Then I write down the projected page or word count goals (Since my current publisher uses computer word counts rather than page counts, I've recently switched over to daily word count goals to keep myself from "cheating" with a lot of chapter breaks and other white space) on my handy-dandy, low-tech calendar. In ink. (Gasp!)

Blowing a daily goal bugs me, but it's bound to happen sometimes. Blowing a weekly goal calls for a serious course correction (i.e. giving up evening relaxation time or weekends) when I'm on a tight deadline. When the deadline's not quite so daunting, it's the monthly goals that I adhere to most closely.

I know other writers who procrastinate 'til the last possible moment, then blaze through the draft in a period of weeks (or even days.) This is the only way that works for them. Goal-setting is the only way that works for me.

So what's your goal for this week? And do you use goal-setting as a regular strategy?


Lark Howard said…
I'm a lot like you. I need goals and deadlines (usually self-imposed) or I'll dawdle through a few paragraphs or pages, think, re-think, go back and edit...you get the drill. When I'm desperate I resort to Write or Die to get me through a draft or a chapter or even a scene.

I've learn I need to commit myself to my word count goals and stick with that commitment or I'd never get to THE END. Even if some days the writing is crap, knowing I did my best to make my goal gives me the optimism to tackle the next day's writing. And you can always fix crap, right?
I tell myself that all the time, Lark. I'm an inveterate self-editor, like you, so I have to measure progress in forward motion rather than just tweaking.

Even though I've spent the last two days reading through the first 230 pages to get the emotional flow in my head and gear up to write the end. (My Harlequins run about 270 ms. pages.)

Also, it's always nice to play a little find-the-continuity error. Such as the blown out tire that had magically reinflated itself back in Chapter 12. Ha!
Kay Hudson said…
I've set myself the goal of finishing my WIP by the end of November, in time for the Golden Heart deadline. I don't really think GH lightning will strike me two years in a row (although I can hope), but setting the date will at least get the first draft finished. I've been sticking with the one hundred words a day challenge for several years now (with breaks, I hasten to add), but it takes more push than that to finish. Right now I'm just watching that end goal, and not worrying too much about daily totals. But ask me again in two weeks . .
Brandie Nickerson said…
I'm getting better about making and keeping my writing goals. Right now, I'm revising my current WIP and writing an outline for a YA for NaNoWriMo :-)

Brandie and Kay,
Those sound like worthy goals. Best of luck in making them!

I've never been able to get into NaNoWriMo, but I know it's a good tool for a lot of folks, so good luck, Brandie.

Thanks for stopping by.

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