Last week I warned you that I might go on about goal-setting and consistency. So here I am.
One of the reasons NaNo is so helpful to writers is that when you participate, you’re publicly stating a tangible goal: 50,000 words by November 30. You state it in a public forum and report on a regular basis. Other participants offer support and encouragement.
This is great. Until December 1. Then what?
I think one reason NaNo is so popular is that it’s one of few places writers can get that kind of support. What writers need is that kind of support—maybe without the astronomical word-count goal—the other eleven months of the year. That’s why we have a WIP report every month. It’s also one reason I’m a big believer in critique groups. They can provide support and accountability.
I love the American Christian Fiction Writers Novel Track program because it provides that accountability. Each participant can set whatever goal suits their season in life, and the other members will encourage and pray for them. So I have a 10,000-word goal, and someone else has 50,000, and yet another person has a goal of 23,475, because that’s how many words she needs to complete her manuscript and turn it in to her editor by deadline.
And we do it every month. That consistency is what I really love about the program. Just 300 words a day, every day but Sundays, for a year gets you a 93,900-word novel.
Terri Main, who supervises the Novel Track Writing program (there’s also an Editing program), issued us a challenge earlier this year: ten minutes a day. Even with everything we have going on, we can stop for ten minutes and write. I’ve found I can often get off 200-300 words in ten minutes.
Generally, though, I set a monthly goal—10,000 is a good number for me, I’ve found—and then divide it out into daily word-count goals and plot them on a spreadsheet. I talked about this once before: How to Gamify Writing.
James Scott Bell, in The Art of War for Writers, advises setting weekly rather than daily goals. This way you don’t feel like a failure when you miss a day–you just make it up later. I like the monthly goal, though, because if I miss a day my spreadsheet just bumps up my daily goals for the whole rest of the month.
Regardless of the numerical goal, consistency is the key. Write every day, even if it’s just ten minutes. Even if it’s just ten words. Write.