First, Happy New Year! I hope it’s perfect for you. If you’re a writer, there’s no better time than right now to go streaking. (grin)
No wait… I mean, you know, there’s no better time to begin a new streak.
Nah, I’m not talking about taking off all your clothes and racing around in public. Seriously, nobody wants to see that. I’m talking about eating an elephant.
Remember the old (very wise) joke? Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.
When you set a goal and that goal is huge (say you want to write a novel in the next six months), it can seem overwhelming, like eating an elephant. So you have to break it down into manageable bites. That would be smaller goals.
First, I recommend figuring out how many publishable words of fiction you write per hour. (Most pro writers seem to write around 700 to 1000 words per hours.)
Now, how many words do you think your novel will be? Let’s say 60,000.
How many weekdays are there in six months? (To make it easy, let’s give each month 4 weeks. So that would be 24 weeks in six months, and 120 weekdays. Okay, now divide your elephant into bite-size pieces. If your novel will be 60,000 words, you’ll want to write at least 500 words per day. That’s it. Weekends off, and you’re working at your “job” (can you really call sitting at a computer making stuff up work?) only about a half-hour per day. Hmmm…. okay, so maybe you could write TWO novels in that six months. 🙂 But I digress. This is supposed to be about streaks.
Okay, you know now what you have to do if you want to write that 60,000 word novel in six months. So now you make those bites a goal. And it’s not only a goal, but a goal that re-sets itself:
Goal: I will write at least 2500 words of fiction per week. There you go. Now you have a goal that resets every week. See how many weeks you an go without breaking your streak, writing 2500 words per day of new, publisable fiction. Want to break it down further?
Goal: I will write at least 500 words of fiction per day, five days per week. Bam! Just like that, you have a goal that resets every time you get out of bed. In other words, you have the potential for a streak! See how many weekdays you can go without breaking your streak.
I’m telling you, Streaks Have Power. Once you start a streak, the longer it lasts, the harder it is to break.
But if you do miss a day, then what? Do you have to make it up by writing an extra 500 words the next day? No. I mean, that would keep you on track for the larger weekly goal, but no, you don’t have to. Because the goal re-sets every day. If you miss a day, you can just skip it and start over on the next day.
Likewise for the next level up: If one week you write only 2350 words instead of 2500, do you have to make up the missing words the following week? Well, I’m anal, so I would, but no, you don’t have to. You gave it your best shot, so forget it. This goal, too, resets at the beginning of each week.
The point is, follow Heinlein’s Rules and Just Write. Keep moving your fiction forward. Write the scene, write the next sentence and keep moving your fiction forward.
It’s all up to you. If you’re a writer, you have to write.
‘Til next time, happy writing.