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#FirstDraft60 Day 17: Setting Goals and Tracking Everything #amwriting #nanoprep #nanowrimo

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comThere’s not much that can be said about setting writing goals that hasn’t already been said. In fact, I did a series on it, which you can read/re-read here.

So why don’t we go ahead and just jump into the meat of the matter.

Part 1: Setting Word-Count Goals

In order to figure out how long your manuscript needs to be, you need to know what type of manuscript you’re writing:

Novella: 20,000 to 25,000 words

Novelette/Category Romance: 40,000 to 65,000 words

Single Title/Mass Market/Trade Fiction: 75,000–120,000 words

Epic: 125,000+ words

My published novels fall between approximately 82,000 (An Honest Heart) to 109,000 (The Art of Romance) words—and a total published word count of 1,076,443 words!

Remember when setting your total word-count goal for this challenge that a first draft isn’t a final draft; and if we stay true to the Draft Writing method, there will be lots of details missing and scenes that need to be fleshed out/added in the revision process. Depending on how you write (sparingly or effusively), your ultimate word-count may be a few to several thousand words longer or shorter than the draft you write next month.

The daunting thing about doing a challenge like this (or like NaNo) is thinking about how many words a day we need to average to meet our goal of a completed first draft. You may only need 800 to 1,000 words a day. You may need 2,500 to 3,000 or more. Which sounds like a whole lot . . . unless you look at it more like getting in a full day’s worth of calories. You’re not (hopefully) going to eat 2,000 calories all in one meal (though, there are days . . .). In addition to breaking down your full word-count to a daily average, you can break down the words needed per day into smaller chunks to be done at designated times per day—just like meals. For example, waking up a little early to write 500 words before the day starts. Trying to get in 800 to 1,000 words at lunch, and then finishing up the rest of it in an hour or so in the evening.

Assignment 1: Determine what you want your final word-count to be for your completed first draft—or at least the word-count you’d like to reach at the end of this challenge—and post it in the comments section along with your calculation of what you’ll need to average daily to reach it and how you intend on scheduling your time to reach the daily goals.

Part 2: Tracking Your Word Count

For years, I used to keep a running meter on my word-count, both for myself and here on the blog. You’ll see that I still have a widget over on the right that links to my word-count meter for The Spymaster’s Daughter on ST. And when I clicked on it, I realized why I haven’t been thrilled with the idea of continuing to use it. Because the code that is supposed to keep the widget here on my website up-to-date isn’t working correctly (it’s most likely just a compatibility issue between WordPress and ST—so if you don’t use WordPress for your site, ST may work just finefor you). It’s time for me to find a new way to track my word-count.

StoryToolz isn’t the only free online tracker—they’re easy enough to find with a basic Internet search. Of course, if something like StoryToolz isn’t for you, you can always go “old skool” and track it privately in a spreadsheet on your computer. (I may do this and just change that widget to a text box which I can update daily when I come in here to do my blog posts.)

Old Skool

If you don’t know how to set up the formulas, just ask. I’ve been doing spreadsheet formulas for over twenty years now.

Assignment 2: Determine how you will track your word-count progress and share your plan in the comments.

Part 3: Tracking Writing and Writing-Related Activities Time

Tracking your progress isn’t just about word-count. Sometimes, you may have what feels like an amazingly productive “writing day,” yet end up with very little word count to show for it. That’s where tracking the time you spend both writing and working on writing-related activities comes in.

We typically schedule our “writing time” as the time in which we plan to be actually writing. But what about all the other time that goes into creating a manuscript? The planning (what we’ve been doing all along), the study of craft, the naming/casting of characters, the research, the plotting, the brainstorming (both alone or with trusted writing friends). All of that is important Writing-Related Activity. And when you’re first getting started writing, it’s just as important to keep track of all of the time you spend working on developing your story as you do actually writing it.

As you may have seen in the comments on the Day 8 post, I’ve been using a simple spreadsheet to track all of my story/writing-related work (which includes the time spent on these blog posts, responding to and posting comments, and writing-related social media activity). I’m also tracking the time spent on story prep work (the daily assignments).


But if you want to get even more technologically savvy, there are thousands of free time/project-tracking apps for your phone or computer or both.

Assignment 3: Decide if you want to track your writing-related time/projects and, if so, share how you intend to do so in the comments.

  1. Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:15 am

    Assignment 1:
    Draft Word-Count Goal: I’m aiming for a completed first draft of at least 75,000 words. If I can do that, it’ll match my record for the shortest draft/manuscript I’ve ever written! (I was trying to write a category romance—approx. 45-50k words. I rewrote it as Love Remains, which is firmly a trade-length novel at just a few words short of 90k.)

    Daily Word-Count Goal: I need to write at least 2,500 words a day throughout November. I was going to say I need to “average” 2,500 words per day . . . but that’s just a setup for excuses and procrastination (“I wrote 2,800 words yesterday, I don’t need to write as many/as long today” or “I can just make up on my word count this weekend”). So my goal for November is to write at least 2,500 words per day.

    Plan for Reaching Word-Count Goals: See my calendar that I posted yesterday. Lots of scheduled writing time and 1k1hr writing sprints!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol permalink
    Tuesday, October 18, 2016 12:48 pm

    Since I’m writing a middle grade novel, my word count goal is 40,000 words. I’m still exploring the answers to the other assignments. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tuesday, October 18, 2016 1:17 pm

    I’m thinking of using this: for tracking my word count. I like that I can set up a project. It breaks down the word count for me-even set to write more on weekends. Then downloaded to my calendar via iCal. Sweet!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Shirley Taylor permalink
    Tuesday, October 18, 2016 3:42 pm

    Okay, I’ve determined that I am aiming for a Single Title/Mass Market/Trade Fiction: 75,000โ€“120,000 words kinda goal.
    My actual goal is 100,000 words but I’m actually doing more of a #FirstDraft90 instead of 60 and have split my word count goal in half. For November I would like to write at least 50,000 words and have set myself the goal of writing 2,000 words per day, taking Sundays off (or playing catch-up). I will try to exceed/double my word per day goal whenever possible but I know that 2,000 words per day is a fully attainable goal for me that gives me some pressure but not so much as to be overwhelming if I get a bit behind.
    I have made a calendar, word count tracking table, and a time sheet table in my Scrivener file and will update it manually each day.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:41 pm

    Assignment 2: Tracking Word-Count
    Based on Carol’s recommendation, I set up a tracker on Pacemaker. I’ve linked to it on my Story in Progress widget above. I’m still not 100% sure about it—I like having the visual of a status bar that shows total words and/or % of goal. But for now, it’s what I’m going with.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:42 pm

    Assignment 3: see post ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Carol permalink
    Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:56 pm

    Since I didn’t start at the first of October, and I can’t easily recall the time and activities related to writing, and I will be in draft writing mode for November, I am not going to track my writing related time/activities for now. I don’t intend to do any research in November, just write. ๐Ÿ™‚ But when I’m in revision mode I will definitely track my time. I think it will help me see progress. I’m sure I’ll just use a simple spread sheet with color coding for each activity.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:10 am

    First draft word-count goal: I’m aiming for the full novel to be around 80,000 words. I know there is no way I’ll manage that during November, though. I watch my twin toddlers all day and then work at night, so my writing time is limited to during their naps and early mornings. Plus I’m just a slow writer, although I’m trying to get faster. My goal for November is a rough draft of 50,000 words with a plan to continue the writing schedule in December to finish the full manuscript.

    Daily word count goal: 1500 words at a minimum. I did Camp NaNoWriMo during April and July and found that I could hit 1500 if I pushed hard and made no excuses. I hope I’ll get faster and can log more, but this is probably realistic for where I am now.

    Plan for reaching word count goal: I’m trying to train myself to be a morning person by following The Miracle Morning for Writers plan. Hopefully this will give me a good hour before my kids wake up and take over my day. I’m carving out two hours to write during nap time each day, but may have to split it between my job and writing if my work volume goes up, which it usually does in November. And in the spirit of full disclosure: my kids may also watch a smidge more Baby Einstein than usual so I can sneak in some words.

    To track word counts and time spent writing, I created a table in OneNote. I also signed up for NaNoWriMo, since my goal here aligns with its 50k goal. I added their daily word tracking widget to my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sarah Madelin permalink
      Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:15 am

      I just realized my math is off (there was a reason I majored in English…). At 1500 words/day I’ll only manage 45,000 total. So I’ll aim for 1667 words, which puts me right at 50k.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Sunday, October 23, 2016 1:24 am

    1. Draft Goal: A paranormal novel runs between 80k and 100k words. I can’t do that within the 30 day limit. My plan is to write at least 50k in November and finish it between Christmas and New Years.

    2. Daily Word Count Goal: I have family visiting after Thanksgiving so my goal is to write a minimum of 2k words a day. I also need to make several props for the play. I need to schedule time during work to do that.

    I’m going to keep track of my word count on Pacemaker. Like Carol, I like that I can set up Nano as a project.

    3. Plan for Reaching Goal: Write like my fingers are on fire from 10pm to about 1:30am during the week and then mornings and afternoons on the weekends. A lot of it depends on the athletic schedule of our college teams.



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