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: Day 17

It’s day seventeen of Camp NaNoWriMo and technically I should be at around 17,000 words if I want to meet my 30,000 word goal by April 30th, but I’m not quite there. I haven’t given up, though. I’m still chugging along and making progress. There are thirteen days left in the month, and hope is alive my friends! I may just meet that goal, yet.

The whole point of participating in NaNoWriMo this month was to get back to writing on a regular basis. My flash fiction experiment didn’t work. Probably because I long to write novels and not short fiction. Whatever the case may be, I’ve written thirteen out of the past seventeen days, which is probably a record for me, and I’m beginning to feel like an actual writer rather than one who aspires to write.

In the beginning, my daily goal was 1000 words a day or 7000-ish words a week. According to my stats, I’m averaging just under 700 words a day. My goal for the rest of the month is to improve upon that average and bring it up to the 1000 words a day.

The most important thing is to keep on going until I’ve reached the very end…no matter how long it takes.

A New Beginning

I haven’t written a blog post in about a year and a half. Truth be told, I haven’t written much of anything over the past year. So many things have happened since my last post.

First, trying to figure out what I wanted to write about became a daily struggle. Did I want to write romance, mystery, horror, suspense or women’s fiction? All of these genres interest me, but I just couldn’t settle on one. I had a lot of ideas for stories…too many ideas. I couldn’t stick with one long enough to actually reach the end of a story and as a result I became discouraged with writing altogether. I gave up. I believe I overwhelmed myself with focusing too much on publishing. Trying to figure out which idea would be the one. The magical one that would get me published.

At some point I decided to go back to school. My current job is a dead end and I need a more reliable source of income. I couldn’t seem to get my shit together with writing, so school seemed to be my only option. The plan was to continue writing while working full time and going to school in the evenings. That plan did not pan out, however. Within a month I was exhausted and felt brain dead. I decided writing would have to be put on hold until further notice.

I plugged along with work and school and made it through the first semester of the program I was enrolled in, but the overwhelming exhaustion never subsided. Turns out I was sick. Turns out it was cancer. Fucking cancer! I’m not even 50 years old. But I already knew what the diagnosis was going to be before the test results came back. My gut just told me something was wrong, and my gut was right.

A lot of shit goes on when you find out you have cancer. Your life flashes before your eyes. You think about all the stuff you’ve yet to accomplish, all the things you were too afraid to try, the things you figured you still had time to do. You find out who your true friends are, and some of them wind up showing their true colors and instead turn out to be assholes rather than friends.

I was fortunate. My cancer was caught early and I’m on the mend. This whole experience has made me think about my life and what I want to do with it. Being a novelist is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a teenager. Making a living as a novelist is no easy thing to accomplish, but it is something that I want to pursue. Since my illness, I had to quit school. I’ve amassed an enormous amount of medical bills, so I can no longer afford the monthly payments for school. I believe this is a blessing in disguise. What I was studying was not something I was really interested in, and I’m 90% certain I would have been unhappy in that job as well.

Being a fiction writer is what I want to do for a living, and writing is how I want to spend the bulk of what’s left of the rest of my life. My plan is to bring my focus back to writing, learning as much as I can about craft and becoming a better writer. I want to spend the next year finding my voice. I don’t want to get distracted about the publishing/business side of writing. I just want to write until I figure out what it is I want to say. Once I do that, everything else should fall into place.

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.