Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing a novel in a year - setting goals

Greetings fellow writers. I read a lot of success books. Meaning, books about becoming successful. Successful at whatever your heart desires. And of all the books, from Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale to Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar, they all stress the importance of setting goals.

Goal: write a first draft of a novel.

Seems easy, doesn't it? Well, for those who've never done it, it can seem like a daunting task. Let's break it down, shall we?

Oh, I'm forgetting something. You also need to put a timeline on it. Timelines can change, and they will as you go along. That's okay. Give yourself permission to do it. There is a famous saying that "there are no unrealistic goals, just unrealistic time frames." Not sure who said it, but it's true. Okay, here we go . . .

Modified goal: write a first draft of a novel in . . . one year (365 days).

How does that sound? Terrifying? Exciting? Both? It can be done.

Now that you have your larger goal of writing a novel in 365 days, let's break it down into daily tasks. Let's say . . . write one page a day. "Okay, Mark, I can do that. No problem."

Day one: write that one page. When it's done, look at it and pat yourself on the back. You are one page closer to getting it done. If you do that for a week, you'll have seven pages. Phew! Holy cow! After a month, it's thirty pages (yes, you'll be writing on the weekends too). You are thirty pages closer to getting it done.

But how long is your novel going to be? Who knows? Let's say . . . 400 pages (note: none of my novels have I really known ahead of time how long they'll be but we had to pick a number so just go with me).

"But, Mark, at that rate, I'll never finish the 400 pages in a year."

Ah, ha!

Let's say after thirty days you've started to get a good rhythm and you do two pages in a day. Wow, two pages! If you do that for a month, you'll have sixty pages. All total, ninety pages. Very impressive. Now it looks like you'll finish that novel in a year.

But wait, there's more. You'll find as you go along, there will be days where the one or two pages will just flow and the next thing you know, you've written somewhere between five and ten pages. This doesn't give you permission to take the next few days off. No way! Keep writing. And before too long, if you keep this pace up, constantly writing more and more pages as you go along, three or four months have passed and it'll be done.

Then, comes the next phase of writing: editing.

But that's for another day, fellow writers.

Final note: write down your goals. Post it where you can see it everyday.  In fact, even get a calender and write how many pages you write in a day. You'll be surprised how many you can do when you set a goal, write it down, see it, and execute.

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