January Goals Update

So, in line with the goals I established here, I am going to do a monthly goal-update blog, to keep me honest and on track.

The only goals I’m due to have action on this month are numbers 1, 2, 6 & 7. I’ve allocated Jan thru Mar for CM1 (goal 2), Apr thru Jun for CM2 (goal 3), Jul thru Sep for CM3 (goal 4) and Nov for CM4 (goal 5) so will only have to report on goals 3, 4 and 5 when I get there.

Progress Goal 1: 600 Words / Day, 5 Days / Week, 50 Weeks / Year

Well, this didn’t go so well, which isn’t a great start to the goal achievement schedule. I didn’t manage to write for five days of each week, nor did I manage to write more than 600 words on each of those days. I wrote on 21 days, and managed to top 600 on only 13 of them. But I don’t count it as a total, or even a near failure, perhaps just a misunderstanding of myself and my working habits. I came to the conclusion that I might have to change this goal.

Before I started documenting my word counts, I had no real grasp of my writing habits, still don’t to be honest, but by recording when I write and on what, I have started to become very ‘mindful’ of how I go about it, so the process has already been useful. I also encountered several brain quirks which are also ‘interesting’ and are what might require the change in approach.

The main quirk I found is that I kept coming up against an emotional resistance to writing. It was like my psyche had turned into a five-year-old throwing a, very quiet, passive-aggressive tantrum in the back of my mind, saying stubbornly under her breath “Doan-wanna!” And I just gave in. I’m not entirely sure why, but it was like every time I thought about having to write my quota, my brain would do a slight-of-hand trick on me and focus my thoughts onto something else it really wanted to do an awful lot more, so I didn’t write.

What happened when I did start writing was that I generally wrote a lot more than the goal – 2 or 3 times as much. On the 13 days out of the month I exceeded 600, only on one of those days did I write less than double the quota. When I didn’t commit, on the other 9 writing days, I was just fiddling around, with word counts that were hardly worth recording, but on each of those, I never solidly broke through the 450 word barrier. I discovered that I pretty much have to force myself through the first 500 words but that after that mark it starts to flow really easily.

I have averaged more than 600 words a day since day 10, but an average of 600 is not the same as 600 words written on a given day. In total, I wrote approx. 23,400 words this month, so, again, not a bad output, but at a very inconsistent rate.

So… what to do?

Well, to stop myself from sliding out from under the writing obligation, I’m going to set a minimum 420 words limit for the month of February (which should still get me to 150k for the year), but I’m going to commit to doing it EVERY day. Since I know that when I get going, I have no trouble producing a lot, it’s more of an issue for me to try to develop some consistency, and good regular writing habits, rather than trying to produce high numbers. So yeah, for the month of Feb (possibly longer if it works), this goal is going to be re-phrased to 420 words a day, every day.

Let’s see if my brain can kick its way out of that.

Progress Goal 2: Finish CM1 by 31/03/2014

So far so good towards this goal. I’ve broken it into five steps.

Step 1 was to go through and write an updated outline for the book as it now stands, using the precepts from Rock Your Revision – discovering what the purpose of each scene is and what I wanted to achieve – and writing it into a scene outline chart. The purpose, which I didn’t really understand until I read GMC, can be all sorts of things, but each scene should have at least three reasons for existence. For eg: Advance the plot, build a character, illustrate the world, introduce a character, escalate conflict, illustrate goal or motivation, create sexual tension, reveal a secret, establish or remove trust between characters, speed up the pacing… ad in finitum! I have completed this now.

Step 2a is to establish the External GMC for each and every scene, and if it doesn’t have a GMC, look really hard at whether it needs to in the book. I’m going to follow the strategies in Rock Your Revision to analyse each scene. I’ve already got my major plot points down, and GMC of some of the characters, but I’ll probably have to finish the GMC charts here to.

Step 2b I’m also at the same time doing a sort of Internal Goals check for each of the major themes in the book against each scene – ie, noting down in a ‘Guilt V Self-Respect’ column if that particular element is coming up in a scene, so I know which scenes are emotionally pulling their weight.

I’m hoping to have both these steps finished by the middle of Feb. I’m already 20% of the way through, and have only two scenes that require a major re-write so far, out of 20 – I’m sure I’ll find a lot more as I go along though.

Step 3 is to do a story revision pass – fix the plot holes (hopefully not too many), write any new scenes required, and fix goal continuity / implications, type in all the extra bits, remove the extraneous stuff etc etc etc. Hoping to have that done by end of Feb.

Step 4 is to do a scene revision pass – fix the words, fine tune the setting and dialogue etc, and I’m hoping to have that done by March.

Step 5 is to send off to beta readers for a final look, then to Agents. Eek!

Progress Goal 6: Blog Once a Month

Well, this actually qualifies as a blog post, but I think I’m going to say this doesn’t count, so I have to write another post in addition – and do so every month, as I intend this to be a monthly update post! Did I achieve that? Why, yes I did. I wrote the post on GMC! Well done me!

Progress Goal 7: New Books Read;

Fiction so I read in my own genre and keep abreast of the market, Non-fiction for research and inspiration, and Writing Reference for building my craft.

Month Fiction (Fantasy Pref) Non-Fiction Writing Reference
January Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict, by Debra Dixon

So, Goal 7 was completed for this month too. I’m feeling virtuous. 🙂

So far so good!

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One Response to January Goals Update

  1. Keep at it! Don’t get down on yourself if you miss a goal, or two, or three, every once in a while.

    Right now my own goals pertain to reading, more than writing.

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