Thursday, May 31, 2007

Error #3: Not Having Goals and Deadlines

We had a loud, extended thunderstorm on Wednesday the 15th, which reminded me that I hadn't backed up anything since... February. So I worried through the storm, and the next day I went out and picked up a hundred CDs, and backed up all the important stuff. I was a little curious as to how I had progressed since my last backup, so I stuck my last update CD (February 2) into the computer, and looked at how many words I had written in the last three and a half months.

8,000. I'd gotten 8,000 words done on my novel since February.

8,000 is nothing. Three and a half months averaging 2,000 words a month. A saleable novel is somewhere between 70,000 and 90,000 words. My plan is to have this book finished by November so I can go to the World Fantasy Con (less than two hours from where I live) this year and pitch it. I'll need to have the first draft done by October 1 at the latest so I can have a month to revise it before I go to WFC.

I have four months to get between 35,000 and 40,000 words written. At 2,000 words a month, that just wasn't going to happen. I mean, I had my plan, but I hadn't been keeping an eye on my progress toward that goal.

So for the last three weeks, the goal has been a thousand words done every day that I devote to writing (which is to say three days a week). It hasn't been easy--I've really had to sweat. And I haven't always made trhe daily goal. But more often than not I have, and the progress is wonderful. Since I put myself on the daily goals, the book has grown from 36,000 words to 41,500: five and a half thousand words in two weeks. At this pace, I will finish by the end of September and still have time to revise it.

Lesson learned. I can't just set a deadline for a novel the way I can with shorter works. I have to make sure have set shorter-term goals to make sure I'm getting everything done in proper time.

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