A big part of my writing process is operating with small goals. After all, a novel is usually approximately 100,000 words, countless hours of time, and several rewrites. Focusing on the end game – the finished, published manuscript – is too daunting, too far off and untouchable, especially at the beginning. But even now, as I am in my second rewrite, that dream of putting “The Varken” for sale is still too far off.
Striving for small goals is achievable, visible, and pushes me forward, rather than causing me to be paralyzed, overwhelmed by the big picture.
There are several tools that I use that help me to visualize and determine these goals:
First is Write-O-Meter.
Some authors have a daily word count, and Write-O-Meter will facilitate that goal, but I prefer to have a daily minute count. On busy days, I aim to write (or edit) for just 25 minutes that day. Whatever amount of words get squeezed out is good because I’ve at least starred at my novel for 25 minutes. But if I write for 50 minutes, that’s even better, or two hours. Usually, after 25 minutes I’m in the zone and will write for longer, unless I have other projects that I need to attend too.
I love that Write-O-Meter keeps track of how much I write each day, so I can look back and see my progress, and how 500 words builds to 100,000 words. You also earn Guava Fruit (read, reward points!) for every 25 minutes you write, that you can spend on rewards that you set. I have rewards for refilling my coffee or having a snack, or larger rewards like playing SWTOR or browsing Facebook. It’s like a personal accountability program.
Second is Scrivener, which you might have heard of before because it is the writer’s #1 resource.I love Scrivener because it based around the idea of scenes, rather than chapters. Finishing a scene, a moment, is a lot more quickly achieved that a whole chapter. A smaller goal. Even now, I still don’t have chapters as I edit now! Once I finish with this rewrite, I will go back and determine the best place to put my chapter breaks, another little goal!
There are also spots for characters (and I added relationships as well), history, and locations. Working on these sections are like little goals of their own, developing characters and the setting.
These two tools coupled together create some great momentum for me as I write. Over the course of 25 minutes, I can usually write 500 words, and during 50 minutes, perhaps a whole scene! A couple weeks later, the first Act is done and a couple months later, there is a first draft! Focusing on the little things is much more helpful to me than staring at a blank screen and telling myself to write a novel.
Instead, I tell myself “write something for 25 minutes”, and that is much more approachable.