#FirstDraft60 Day 17: Setting Goals and Tracking Everything #amwriting #nanoprep #nanowrimo
There’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 StoryToolz.com 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.)
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.
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