I’ve been working on building the habits I started during NaNoWriMo into a daily writing practice and I’d like to show you how I’ve been keeping track of my writing goals for the month of January:
- I set my daily goal wordcount to 300 words, assuming that 300 words is a bad day, 500 is a good day, and 1000 is an excellent day. I only count fiction towards my wordcount goal, not blogging or journaling. This forces me to work on my improvisation and visualization skills, to accept what my imagination gives me to work with and run with it. I’m endeavoring as well as I can to write without judging the writing as I go, similar to NaNo, so the quality of the writing is less than stellar – but at least things are happening! It feels like kicking an old furnace, and it’s kind of refreshing just to feel that furnace thrumming again.
- I keep track of my wordcount by writing in a Microsoft Word doc, and at the end of every session I write the wordcount between brackets on a new line.
- Then I subtract the new wordcount from the previous day’s wordcount tag, and record that number into an Excel document where it’s compared to my goal wordcount. Seeing that the daily wordcount is greater than the 300 word goal is a nice feeling and makes me want to keep working!
- I also have a physical board where I check off my goals weekly. This way, I can see whether or not I’ve accomplished my goals for the day at a glance (and yes, I’m privileging writing over the other goals right now…). It just gives a little extra validation and a way to quickly check what’s been done and get ideas for what to work on next.
So, things are going pretty steady so far! I’m pretty happy with this method. It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to write 300 words a day, and you don’t need to have a plan in mind, you can just ad-lib it. I haven’t really done a lot of “plotting” or “making a cohesive story” so far, but I’m leaving that until I have enough material built up and some characters that I know well enough to weave into something more structured.
Occasionally, it is a struggle to write, and on those days knowing that I only have to write a couple paragraphs of anything off the top of my head makes my goal to write every day seem more doable. If I can do it in only 30 minutes, it invalidates the “I’m too busy” and “I don’t feel like it” excuses. I was in a really bad mood yesterday and didn’t want to write last night, but knowing my goal was small made it easier to sit down and bang something – anything – out before bedtime. And it turned out to be a fun little scene about Satan buying an apartment in San Francisco!
It took me a long time to find a structure that would work for me, and I think I’ve finally found it! Hopefully this will be of help to some other aspiring fiction writers.