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Get Set: Setting Writing Goals and Timelines #ReadySetWrite

Monday, February 16, 2015

#ReadySetWrite: Get Set--Setting Writing Goals and Timelines | KayeDacus.comIn addition to getting all of the creative aspects of your story ready and set for writing, it’s important to make sure you have goals and timelines when it comes to how you’re going to write your story—and how long it will take you to write your story.

It’s all well and good to be ambitious and say you’re going to have the rough draft of your manuscript finished in three months—or even less time. And, if you’re an experienced writer and you know your own production ability, then you know whether or not that’s a reasonable goal.

Setting Writing Goals

As we discussed in the Goals vs. Dreams series, it’s all well and good to dream of writing a novel, but unless you give your dreams marching orders—unless you set actionable, personally achievable goals—you’ll likely never see those dreams fulfilled.

Remember, when it comes to setting goals for your writing:

  • Don’t be vague—set a goal with a specific, detailed end product as your result.
  • Make a checklist of actionable, personally achievable steps.
  • Set long-term and short-term goals.
  • Set a timeline for every step it will take to achieve your ultimate goal—a completed manuscript.
  • You can read more about these steps here.

Setting Your Timeline for your First Draft

Once you’ve laid out your goals and actionable items—and you know what your overall timeline is, you know how much time you need to get your first draft written. When you know you have a certain total word-count you want to reach by a certain date, you need to break it down into smaller, more easily achievable goals.

But before you even start looking at numbers, you need to look at your calendar.

#ReadySetWrite: Get Set--Setting Writing Goals and Timelines |

As you can see, my schedule stays pretty busy, between blogging daily, working full time, personal training, going to the gym, and meeting up with a friend once a week to write. Then there are the weekly tasks, like laundry, house cleaning, and meal planning and cooking ahead for those busy weeks. And don’t forget special events/occasions. Since my friends and I go to the movies regularly, and since it usually involves a meal before or after, I make sure to block out that time on my calendar, too.

Once you know on what days you will and won’t be able to write, then you’ll be able to better calculate a regular (daily/weekly) word-count goal. So, for example, if you want to write an 85,000-word first-draft in 90 days, you’d set a daily word-count goal of 945 words per day, or a weekly goal of 7,085 words per week for twelve weeks.

For someone just starting out on your first manuscript, you will want to give yourself more time than that. Because writing every day is a habit that, like any habit, needs time to become a normal part of your everyday life, you may want to start with a smaller goal of, say, 500 words per day or 1,500 words per week.

#ReadySetWrite: Get Set--Setting Writing Goals and Timelines | .. #ReadySetWrite: Get Set--Setting Writing Goals and Timelines |

In addition to setting a total word-count goal and daily goals, in the past, I’ve used a planner to create and track a daily running total of what my total word-count should be if I’m keeping up with my daily goals.

#ReadySetWrite: Get Set--Setting Writing Goals and Timelines | KayeDacus.comThe best way to figure out your writing timeline is to figure out what your manuscript word-count goal is. Then, once you do that, you might want a planner of some sort you can use as a daily accountability tool to track your writing. Or, if an online tracker like the one I’m using to track my reading goal or my word count for my current story over on the right-hand side, works better for you, visit Story Toolz.

TL;dr version:

  • Set a total word-count goal for your first draft.
  • Set a date by which you want to have your first draft finished.
  • Look at your calendar to see when you will and won’t be able to write.
  • Set daily/weekly word-count goals to be able to meet your deadline goal.
  • Track your word count in a planner or online widget to make sure you’re on track to meet your deadline goal.

What are some other tips and advice you can share about setting goals and timelines?

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