August 9th, 2011

crossed heart

How to Write a Book in Six Months — goals (part 43)

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

I'm kidding about the part 43, but I am goal obsessed, and so as I start to get into Shapeshifted, yay more goal setting. I'll do my math here in case it interests anyone in How To Write A Book in Six Months, assuming I finish this one on time ;).

For anyone not here last book, I keep a separate google calendar with all of my goals set on it, so I can click them on and off. I keep track of all career metrics on it, actually. Talks with my agent, important deadlines, good emails, etc. I <3 google calendar, hard.

From here on out, I'd like to be doing 10k a week on Shapeshifted's draft zero. If I complete that, I'll be done the first week of October, and have Oct-Dec to make Shapeshifted rock. (Mind you, I'm being helped along by a healthy outline this time, more on this in just a bit.) I know from doing this in the past -- I also put my word counts every few k or milestone-y part on my calendar -- that my first draft last book was about 65k, so I may finish sometime in September, assuming I stay on target. I'll be thrilled if I finish earlier (and the word count's longer) but I feel good about giving myself 3 months for rewrites, even if they have to be extensive.

I decided this time through to call this draft draft zero, since it's veryyyy sketchy. But, that willingness to be sketchy, plus the outline (the outline that took me a month to work out, mind you) let me get a ton of words done today. I set aside 5 hours for nothing but writing (and fucking around on pandora, to be honest) and got a ton done. I almost let myself off the hook at 3k -- but I knew I had an extra hour to kill before yoga then, which'd just lead to me wandering around downtown being tempted to spend money on these hella cute socks...when I'd already spent money on spending the day at my local office co-op, besides. I packed everything up, went to the bathroom, with a "I wrote 3k today!" song in my heart...and by the time I washed my hands, nagged by my conscience (more on this later too) I went back out and unpacked my bag again to write some more. 4100 words total. Several major scenes -- and the sketchiness that I'm writing with right now, more just whitecapping the story events and emotional beats, gave me the high level realization that I need to scoot some pieces around already, for better emotional flow, without a bunch of pre-existing words to wade through.

Actually, come to think of it, what I'm writing like right now is more the meat of scenes, and not the transitions into or out of them, unless they are on emotional beats. I think this'll save me some time in the end, because rewriting the beginning of a scene every time you move it, and then switching everything around in the scene that you've gotten attached to, say the architecture of the room and you change locations, etc, is a pain in the ass. So hopefully, *cross fingers* this'll be a better way. When at the end, I have everything lined up in the right emotional order...i can put in all the space and blocking mortar I please.

And based on that, if this draft zero does pull in at 65 k, I won't worry a bit -- I'm really, freakishly underwriting right now. I hope it lasts, heh ;). (The overwriting last book was largely not knowing the plot, and working it out the hard way. I'm hoping my outline stays firm.)

Anyhow -- today I went ahead and put all my theoretical goals in the calendar -- 20-30-40k etc, starting each Sunday morning, and I put in 14,441 words done today for today, 'cause that's how many I totaled. (I also put a * in to mark it as a co-op using day, to see how successful paying for a day pass for office space really is, and if I can legitimize a monthly account.)

What'll I do if I blow the doors off of my wordcount this week? (Although I have work coming up, and that's unlikely?) I'll leave my current goals in place -- because Worldcon's coming up, and it might set me off course. Also, there's nothing more satisfying than seeing myself get ahead of where I thought I'd be -- it'd be a little unsatisfying to scoot all my goals up and then not feel like I was getting ahead ;).

My car got a horrible dent in the door this past weekend -- someone hit it in a parking lot :( -- and my deductible is a grand. I'm really bummed about this, and it influenced me in my decision making today. Not so much as to make me not pay for the co-op...but enough to make me want to make the co-op earn out, and not be tempted by other things to buy. The cash decision, in regards to me most likely being out a grand, helped me to stay on track with the writing. I let it do that, without beating myself up about it.

The secret to making goals is to have them almost attainable, but just a little out of reach, and to be nice to yourself about not attaining them, but not so nice they're not a challenge anymore. They need to be possible enough to drive you forward, but not too easy. To be honest, I think it helps to practice making them, so you always know where you're at. If i hadn't kept track of last book, and had practice with the feel of prior books, I wouldn't have been able to assess where I was at, and where I should be. So failure's good in a way -- it lets you know you did your goals wrong, and how to change them out the next time through.

More thoughts on goals coming up in the next few posts, along with other six month book stuff, magic ponies, and fuel.