Monday, January 7, 2013

Bare Knuckle Bucket of Does or How To Make Progress on Your Work-in-Progress

When the deadline looms, I'm one of those people who put it in gear and gun it hard all the way to the finish line.  I work great under pressure.  Of course, right now, most of my deadlines and the pressure that goes with them come from the day job, but that's another story.

So, if it's such an important piece of me, why am I not more productive as a writer?

Many writers are wired to think in stories.  Their brains are cluttered with story ideas, lines of dialogue, quirky characters, and flowing descriptions that would make angels weep.  Yet, until they make it to the page, all they can possibly be are possibilities.  Until a writer has an editor or critique partner putting on pressure to give over finished products, stories are often left not started or unfinished.  Lately, I'm soooo there.

Once again, the question is how to change that.  However, the reality of it all is this--there is no easy solution.  I'm the only one putting pressure on me to get writing done, and apparently I'm not twisting the screws tightly enough.

The only way a writer can push toward those lofty publishing dreams, whether it be to publish traditionally or independently, is to begin and finish the damn book.  It's time to become a bare-knuckle bucket of does.

But what does that mean?

It means setting goals and sticking with them.  It's one thing to set a long-term goal like getting published.  In order to achieve that lofty goal though, what you do in the short-term really, really matters.  So, what are some good short-term goals?

One of the first goals has to be about writing time.  Writing time has to be priority.  Determine how much time you really can devote to writing each week.  I thought I could devote seven hours a week.  One hour a day, right?  Reality check--not possible with my day job.

Try to be as realistic as possible when setting writing goals.  Dean Wesley Smith suggests you set a goal you think you can meet and then cut it in half.  So, my current writing goal for each week is three and a half hours.

Unfortunately, I'm a slow writer.  I don't like to plot ahead.  When I do, my brain thinks I've actually written the piece, but I've learned a trick.  I fool my brain by only plotting a few scenes at a time.  If I only plan a few steps ahead, it gives me direction but not satisfaction.  This doesn't change the fact that I can only write about 750 words in an hour.  Most writers aim for 1000, and I've hit that and gone over before, but I know I can hit 750 words, so that is my goal for now.  As my schedule frees up, this might be one goal I re-think, but for now, it will work for me.  This means, I will complete 2,625 words weekly.  Sounds small, and it is, but I can make it work.  In a year, even if I only write fifty weeks in the year, I'll write 131,250 words.  For me that's two novels and a short story.

Hopefully, you find some good, realistic information you can use here.  There is more to being a bare-knuckle bucket of does, but I'll continue with that next time.

For now, happy reading and writing,

Cherie Marks

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