Not by the numbers

If you’re writing to a deadline (self-imposed or external), you need to set yourself goals. Currently, as I’m in ‘novel first-draft mode’, my goal is 10K of new words per week.

Now, even without real-world distractions (day-job, sleep, family, re-roofing the garden shed etc) this is an unrealistic goal. I find that ideas take a long time to pupate and hatch into story. Trying to hurry the process might result in 10K of words in a week, but most of those words will be cast – sometimes hurled – aside before they get anywhere near the final draft of the novel.

Last week, I think I managed my 10K. I did this not because I had more time than usual (I didn’t) but because I was in familiar territory, a section of Queen of Nowhere that my subconscious had already been chewing over for some weeks.

I say ‘think I managed’ because I didn’t actually count the words I wrote. You may ask, quite reasonably, why I set myself an unrealistic target and then don’t even check whether I’ve reached it. It’s because 10K is something to aspire to, a goal that stretches me. However, I don’t want it becoming a goal I obsess over. Hence not counting. Not counting means not knowing extent of my ‘failure’. And if I don’t know how far short of the 10K I am on a given week, then I can’t punish myself for not reaching it, can I?

2 Responses to Not by the numbers

  1. Anne Lyle 26 March 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I’m impressed that you can set a wordcount target and not obsess over it – I have spreadsheets and everything!

    Good luck with the first-draft push, though. I start mine in April, and it’s a long, long time since I did one…

    • JaineFenn 26 March 2011 at 8:04 pm #

      Thanks. Metrics obsessing is a habit I picked up back when I did NaNoWriMo, and it took a long time to break myself of it. I could slide back at any time.

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