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Writing Goals for 2018

It’s easy to not write. I used to write when I felt like it, or when I had a burning project or a deadline, but not with any consistency. Even when I started making word count goals for the year, I still subscribed to writing when I “could.” I’m much more aggressive about my writing these days, and part of that comes from making more specific writing goals and nudging those goals each year to encourage myself toward the kind of writing life I want to have. For me that writing life is summed up in two statements:

  • Be a daily writer.
  • Have more days writing 1K+ words.

As such, these are my writing goals for 2018.

 

Day Count: 365 days
I’ve written every day for the last two years, so this is about continuing my streak. At first writing every day was difficult, but now it’s part of the routine and (almost) no problem.

Total Word Count: 185,000 words
Last year my goal was 200,000 words and I exceeded that goal by 34,000 words. I’m keeping my 2018 goal under my past achievements because experience has shown me that keeping ahead of my goal and exceeding it is more motivating than trying to catch up. I’m also anticipating some shifting workloads later in the year, so I’d like to keep the goal realistic and achievable.
Stretch Goal: 225,000 words

Daily Word Count: 150+ words
150 words per day won’t get me to 185K, but with events like NaNoWriMo and knowing that occasionally I’ll get sucked into a project, 150 words as a minimum is a good goal for the rough/long/exhausting/under-the-weather days. In 2017 I wrote at least 100 words every day, so adding 50 words to the minimum will only help me reach the 185K faster!

Write 1K+ Words: 40 days
This wasn’t an official goal last year, but I did keep track of how many days I wrote 1,000 or more words. In 2017 I wrote 1K+ words on 37 days, so in a year when I’m going to be more mindful of that goal, I feel like 40 days is a good starting goal. I fully expect the majority of the 1K+ days to come from NaNoWriMo, but that still leaves me with some days I need to clear during other months of the year.
Stretch Goal: 55 days

Draft a Novel
I’ve worked the last two NaNoWriMos on the same novel, so I need to keep up the momentum to finish that first draft. (And then, start revisions!)

Revise/Write a Short Story
I have three short stories in varying stages of completion, and I’d like to move at least one to the next stage by the end of the year. I think the one I most want to work on is the new draft, partly because I want to figure out if it’s actually a short story or a novel. (My shorts have a tendency to become longs.)

Read: 35 Books
Reading is part of writing! In 2017 my goal was to read 30 books, and with the introduction of audiobooks to my life I ended up reading 38 books. I’m kicking my goal up to 35 books, because even though I’m expecting to continue sucking down audiobooks like they’re water, I’m planning to take more editing jobs in 2018.
Stretch Goal: 40 books

 

When it’s all spelled out like that it can seem like a lot, but given how many of these goals are already in-progress in some way, I feel confident that I can achieve all of them.

What writing goals do you have for 2018? Do you have any with metrics, like my word count goals, or more general ones, like my goal to finish a draft of a novel?

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The Changeable Plan

Almost every week I meet my friend for dinner and we go to either Barnes & Noble or the library. We spend an hour walking through the books, reading titles, touching covers, and expanding our to-read lists. In addition to an ever-increasing to-read list, I also have an ever-increasing library. And of those books there are a good many that I haven’t read. This year I decided my reading theme would be Read Your Damn Books. I made a whole plan for how many books I wanted to read, how many of them should be books I already own, how many audio books, how many graphic novels, etc. And then I proceeded to the library website and I ordered a bunch of books for home delivery because I apparently like usurping my own plans.

But aren’t all plans really just guidelines? I mean, when I made the original book list, I knew I would swap out books if I wasn’t particularly feeling a title, and that I would make new discoveries over the year. My primary goals were to read thirty books and to spend about half of my 2017 reading time consuming books from my home library. I also wanted to read at least five books borrowed from my local library and to listen to at least two audio books.

I had no idea that I’d get so invested in audio books. I’ve been listening to them while I take walks and so I’ve so far been through seven audio books. (Can I count one as “reading my damn book” since I already owned it?) My guideline of a plan obviously involves some spontaneous revision since I now have to decide how upping my audio book intake affects the number of physical books I read. Do I still need for half of my 2017 books to come from my bookshelf? Can I revise that number to just twelve? (Or ten seeing as how we’re over halfway through the year and I’ve read a whooping total of six books I own.)

I also had to scrap and revamp part of my plan. I had planned to start researching for a time travel story in the latter half of 2017, but in starting to draft my pirate novel, I realized I need to do more pirate research. So it’s back to the high seas, air, and steampunk for me. All the time travel books have been relegated to 2018—at least I already have the start of next year’s guidelines.

The main thing about plans is that they have to be flexible. Rigid plans often prevent productivity. If I said I had to stick to reading my physical books and ignored that I was enjoying listening to audio books on walks I might not have finished as many books as I have, or I might have stopped walking so I could add that time to my book reading time. Sticking to my original plan would have ignored my natural inclinations and that frustration would have easily made me stagnant.

Strangely this reminds me of writing my last novel. I had an outline laid out—an excellent guideline, indeed—but I got caught in the middle, trying to force the main character to read books when she just wanted to listen to audio books (at least in this analogy). Once I let her listen to audio books, things started coming much easier. I had to refigure my plan and change a few expectations, but finishing the first draft became much easier when I stopped fighting against my plan, just like how reading over thirty books in 2017 will be much easier if I let myself continue listening to audio books. Going with the flow isn’t so easy if you’re a planner, but learning to find my own rhythm and accept that as a new plan is key to staying productive.