I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

#81 Completed Goals

Photo: Horia Varlan
Continuing with the 100 life-enriching little nuances series …

The idea of writing an 80,000 to 100,000 word novel seemed unattainable to me when I attended my first writer’s conference in 1998. Thankfully, I wasn't the only person thinking that.

I took a comprehensive novel writing course at the conference taught by Nancy Moser. Somebody in class asked her what her writing schedule looks like – how does a person go about writing 100,000 words?

Her answer was pretty simple. She looks at the total word count she’s shooting for and she divides it by the number of writing days she has on her schedule for her first draft. That number becomes her daily writing goal. That made the process seem a lot more doable to me.

A couple of years later, while working at a bank, employees had a chance to work a flex schedule. I re-arranged my work schedule to have Mondays off. That gave me 52 full writing days available that year. My goal was 90,000 words. That meant I had to write 1,700 words a day. I could do that.

By the end of the year, I wrote 85,599 words – 371 pages. That's where my story ended so my goal was complete. Hitting my goal gave me the confidence to write a second novel. I didn’t sell either of them. But by the time I had a marketable idea for a non-fiction book, I knew I could write it if a publisher gave me a contract (non-fiction books do not need to be written before pitching them to publishers, but novels do need to be written if you are a first time novelist).

In 2004, a publisher did offer me a contract for my non-fiction book idea – a book called Single Servings. I put my formula to work and completed the book on time. I still use that formula, depending on the project.

A Christmas book I wrote in 2005, called The Experience of Christmas, was supposed to be in the 33,000-35,000 word range and it was broken down into 31 devotions. So each devotion needed to average a tick over 1,000 words. I wrote one devotion a day and was able to complete the book in about five weeks.

Slow and steady wins the race for me because it keeps me from straying when I’m writing a book. It answers questions for me. Do I have time to take on an article due next week? I look at my word count spreadsheet and see that I’m barely staying on schedule and the decision has been made. I’ll have to pass.

I really need to carry this practice over to the rest of my life though. The mountains of unfiled paperwork that sit by and around my desk could be handled if I just did 15 minutes a day. My laundry might actually be caught up if I did one load a day. And so it goes. But, like you, I’m a work in progress.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...