Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goal Setting in Writing

One of my hopes with this blog is keep everyone abreast of what is going on in the evolution of Van Stone, but more importantly, I want to share with everyone the journey. By sharing the process, maybe someone out in the blogosphere will be motivated to do the same. 

I’m hard at work on the sequel to The Card. It’s exciting to be back into the world of Van Stone and his friends. Even though I’m chomping at the bit every day to see where Van’s adventure takes me, I still have to deal with the real world. This is one of the most difficult things for any writer, or someone who wants to write, to overcome. There are always more important things to do every day, rather than fulfill my selfish need to write. 

In the beginning, it was difficult to justify spending a couple of hours a day, toying with my hobby, when I probably should have been working my “real job.” My passion for writing won out, and the result was The Card.
Now, I’m back in the creative mode and dealing with the same issues. “How could that be?” you ask? Shouldn’t it be easier to just sit down and write?   The short answer is, the writing is easy, life around it sometimes isn’t.
For someone just beginning the path to writing, or for someone like me who’s published a first novel, the process starts the same: 

Write SOMETHING each day.

It doesn’t matter how much, it doesn’t matter about what, or it doesn’t matter if you will ever use the material. Get your characters doing something and eventually they will take over and lead you in the right direction. Now I’m not suggesting “pantsing” which is the method of writing stuff and see where it leads. I’m talking about working within the framework of your story planning. We’ll talk more about this later. It is only a matter of time before the story takes off and you are in the zone.

When you start cranking, it is important to adjust your goals. In the beginning, writing something may have been a worthy goal, but now the stakes have changed. You are in the zone. 

Set a word goal to achieve daily. I always used 2,000 words. It would take about two hours to hit that mark. I wouldn’t revise during that time. I would just let the words flow out of my head like water out of a fire hydrant. There will be plenty of time later to make revisions.

Does it matter if you hit your goal each day? Of course not, some days I would only get to about 1,200 words in the two hour period. The next day I might crank out 2,000 words. If on most days you are hitting your goal, then you will be well on your way to completing your novel.

You need to decide what a good goal is, whether it’s 500, 1,000, 1,500 words or more is up to you. Make it attainable. Decide realistically how much time you can invest in writing and use that as a gauge. 

Finally, write it down. Once you write down your goal, it becomes more than an idea, but a real goal, a goal that you can accomplish daily. There is a good feeling about achieving your goal, and knowing when it is okay to stop writing for the day. 

You can summarize your writing goal process like this:

1. Write something every day
2. Set a word goal to hit daily
3. Make it achievable
4. Write it down!
5. Make adjustments, and repeat.

Good luck!


  1. One of my biggest hurdles is that I write a LOT at my day job, and I'm burned out when I get home. Writing in the a.m. is sometimes helpful. As Nike says, "Just do it!" So I am. :)

    1. I feel your pain, I also write a lot for my day job. I guess one of my motivations is that someday, this will be my day job (not the blog, writing books!)