Writing Dreams vs Writing Goals

The Best Way to Make Your

Writing dreams. Those of us who write or aspire to write all have them. Here’s a list of my Writing Dreams:

  • Landing a book deal for my current WIP by the end of this year
  • Being offered a huge advance and multi-book contract, enough so that I can quit my job and write full-time
  • That each time I sit down to write, the words will just flow out my brain and onto the page
  • That I can make my own schedule and write whenever the muse strikes
  • My books will sell themselves
  • My first book becomes a runaway bestseller, Hollywood comes knocking and turns it into a blockbuster smash hit staring Emma Stone and Chris Pine

Here’s the Reality to the above list of dreams:

  • My first book, quite possibly, will never see the light of day
  • Unless my name is Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or James Patterson, a huge advance, one that would allow me to quit my job, is just not going to happen.
  • Writing is hard. There will be days where the words just flow out of my head and onto the page, but only on rare occasions
  • If I only wrote when the muse made an appearance, I’d never write anything. Writing professionally means meeting deadlines — and that means writing when you don’t feel like it
  • I’m not that great a writer and nobody knows who the hell I am, so I’m pretty sure my books won’t sell themselves. I’ll have to put in some effort to find readers and sell my work.
  • That last one is borderline delusional but a fun daydream nonetheless

Dreams are fun to think about, especially when you’re having an especially crappy day. They give you something to look forward to, even if they are just daydreams. If you want to earn a living as a writer, you have to learn early on to not get caught up in romanticizing the “writer life.”

Writing is a profession just like any other. In order to succeed, you need to focus more on your writing goals rather than those crazy dreams you might have.

Here is a list of my current Writing Goals:

  • Write every day. Set and meet weekly word count goals. (minimum goal of 7000 words a week)
  • Finish my first draft, rewrite it, polish it, hope that it’s good enough to submit to either agents or directly to a traditional publisher and send it out into the world
  • Write a second novel and go through the whole process again (hopefully will have found agent at this point)
  • Post to my blog and social media (Twitter for now) on a regular basis and build a “writer platform”
  • Write at least one short story a month for the rest of the year and submit them for publishing

The one difference between goals and dreams is Control. We control the outcome of our goals. Whether we achieve them or not is entirely up to us. Dreams are out of our control. I dream that the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol will knock on my door some day, but I can’t make that happen. Goals are the hard work that we put in while trying to turn those dreams into reality.

Daydreaming is fun once in a while, but I think I’ll stick with reality for now and focus more on reaching my goals.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

My plan to write nonstop flash fiction fizzled out quickly. I managed to complete a short story that I did submit for publication. The story was one of my better ones. Whether it’s good enough for publishing, who knows. Crossing my fingers, but expecting rejection. I’m still having problems motivating myself to just sit and write. I even had two decent story ideas to work on immediately, but kept getting sidetracked with things like lying around or mindlessly surfing the web.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been pretty fed up with my laziness and lack of enthusiasm. I want to be a writer. It’s something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. Yet I can’t discipline myself to sit and write.

It’s time to try a new tactic.

It’s time to go camping.

Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and it runs through the entire month of April. Have you signed up yet? Camp NaNoWriMo is the less hardcore version of the annual NaNoWriMo that takes place every November. With Camp, you can set your own goal, whether it be word count or hours or whatever. I’ve set a goal of 30,000 words for the month of April. I’ll be working on the mystery novel that I’ve been mulling over in my mind and planning for at least two years. Yes, I’m an overplanner. A character flaw that I’m trying to get a handle on.

Participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is a great way to both challenge myself and develop a consistent writing habit once and for all.

For the past week I’ve narrowed my story idea down to a solid 2-3 page outline that will allow me to pump out a decent first draft of a novel. The key to sticking with a goal of 30,000 words in 30 days is to go into it knowing that what I write is going to be a shitty draft. One with plot holes, spelling errors, telling rather than showing, and stuff that just doesn’t make sense.  And that’s okay. It takes the pressure off and allows the creative juices to flow.

The end result…words on the page, a consistent writing habit, and the thrill of creating something from nothing.

 

Setting Realistic Writing Goals

It has been roughly one week since starting my 50,000-words-in-30-days writing challenge and one thing has become very clear to me.

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is an unrealistic goal. For me, that is. It’s just not going to happen. And I’m okay with that.

The first few days of writing were a bit exhausting. Like most writers, I have a full-time day job. I need to be completely alert in order to do my job well. Staying up and writing well past my usual bedtime resulted in a week where I dragged ass at work and was rendered pretty useless. That affected my pay and I cannot afford that to happen on a regular basis.

Realistically, I have a window of about two and a half hours to write during work-day evenings. My days off afford me a lot more writing time. Because of this I’ve gone ahead and changed my writing goals to ones that I know I can achieve.

I’m writing the first draft of a 55,000-word category romance. Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest is what started this whole novel-writing challenge in the first place. I’d read about the contest back in May and decided that using it as a deadline would get my butt in the chair and words on the page.

For years I’ve been saying that I want to write a novel but so far have made no progress. I am a bona fide dillydallier and I have to employ tactics that will allow me to reach my goal, which in this case is a deadline of September 21st.

A realistic goal for me is 5500 words a week, maybe more if I can double my writing hours on my days off. At any rate, I’m giving myself ten weeks to complete the first draft. In all likelihood, I will not be entering this manuscript in the contest. So far what I’ve written is horrible and will need to be rewritten. But I’m getting the story onto the page, and this contest deadline will serve as a tool to help me reach my goal of writing a novel from start to finish.