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Monday, November 4, 2013

Goal Setting

November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and over a quarter million writers participate in this annual project to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. As I understand the objective, writers are to write forward, no looking back, no using the backspace or delete keys, just keep writing. At the end of the month, they’ll have a rough draft that they can flesh out, edit, etc. into a full-length book.

I was tempted to try it this year. I am 25,000 words short of finishing The Chameleon (the second book in the Outer Rim series). I want to finish this book for two reasons. I want to release another book in December and if I complete the book by November 30th, I’ll qualify for the I Will Write a Book challenge by my local RWA chapter (Mid-Michigan RWA). It’s a goal setting exercise where we announce in June that we’ll complete a book by the end of November. I’ve never had difficulty finishing a book in the allotted time. This year, I had an event that took precedence—moving to a new house.

In my current rush to finish the book, I’ve let some things slide. Boxes still line the walls in some rooms—okay, make that most rooms—and laundry piles up. But my book hasn’t completely taken over my life. On beautiful sunny days, when Hub says “let’s go for a drive” I go willingly as we explore a new area. Or we go furniture shopping. After forty-one years, we decided to retire our bedroom set. That and the uncomfortable (for tall people) couch will find new homes via the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Eventually, we need to replace them.

One of the best deterrents to unpacking boxes or writing my novel is a visit from the grandkiddies. While their mother graded her students’ portfolios last Saturday, the kiddies spent all day at Nana and Papa’s. That’s the main reason we moved. To be close enough for visits.

While NaNoWriMo works for many people, I knew it wouldn’t work for me. I would never be able to keep my fingers off the delete and backspace keys. I’m too OCD to let typos stay. I have to tweak as I go. But the main reason is I let life interfere. If you can’t enjoy life, what’s the purpose? I admire people who hold down full-time jobs, have the responsibilities of a young family, and produce five to six books a year. That’s just not me.

However, goal setting does give a sense of purpose. Thanks to a fellow writer, I found a great program that many NaNoWriMo writers use. It tracks the number of words I write per day, including a graph with my goal and my expected and actual progress toward that goal. For those who are interested, the program is Write Track. http://writetrack.davidsgale.com/

Tracking my progress toward a goal gives me a sense of accomplishment. Instead of looking at how far I have to go (or how many boxes I need to unpack), I see how much I’ve done. On this blog, I’ve mentioned that I’m a list maker and a list crosser-offer (is that a word???). Again, it’s a sense of accomplishment to see how many items on my to-do list that I’ve done.

I salute those who entered NaNoWriMo this year and wish them well. As for me, I’ll unpack a box at a time, aim for finishing The Chameleon by the end of November, play with my grandkids, and try not to neglect my sweet husband.

How do you stay on track toward your goals?


  1. Thanks for that great site! I'm going to try it out! I have lists upon lists for keeping track of my goals . . . and then I revise them if I go too far off course.

  2. My local writing group meets once a month and we all write our goals down. Then they're shared in our monthly newsletter. At the next month's meeting, we publically share if we met them. It really does keep me on track.

  3. I actually like NaNo and its demands. I keep it at 2K a sitting and it lets me let it go after that. Let's see how the rest of the month plays out. =)


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