Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Setting Goals -- The Way I Do It

Here's the final count for my long weekend writing binge: 6,131 words.

My target was 10,000 words. So how would you view the actual words written against the target number? If you were doing the goal setting, and the writing, would you feel you had failed?

Here's the thing about my writing habits. Because I was itching to write, and because I had set aside specific blocks of time to work on my book, I probably would have written 3,000-4000 words if I had set no goal at all. By setting a goal that was much higher than my normal output, and then announcing it to anyone who would listen, I challenged myself to work a little longer and with a little more focus than I would have otherwise. That 6,131 words feels pretty good.

If I set a goal that's reasonable and conservative, my tendency is to be satisfied when I've reached that goal. Meeting the target word count means I can quit for the day. I achieve less when I expect less.

What works best for you--setting an easily achievable goal, or raising the target high enough that you must stretch to reach it?

For more information on goal setting and goal setting exercises, I recommend A Goal Setting Exercise on Tim Northburg's HubPages. Tim is a member of Northern Colorado Writers and recently completed his first fantasy novel: Maddox Finnegan and the Relics of Merlin.

13 comments:

Alan Orloff said...

6131 words sound good to me for a (long) weekend's output. Way to go, Patricia!

I like to set a goal that's a slight stretch. Attainable if I put some effort into it. That way, I'll feel like I've accomplished something, and not just skated along.

Karen Walker said...

For my memoir I didn't need to set goals. It just poured out of me. But now, I think I need to adopt your method. Thanks for sharing.
Karen

carolynyalin said...

That's great output! I set goals and try and meet them. The key for me is to set small, so when I've accomplished them and more I feel great. I'll start making bigger goals when Julia is a little older.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

That's a TON of words, Patricia. I make my goals easy, then I feel smart when I surpass them.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I think you did great. I tend not to set my goals too high because I hate feeling guilty about not achieving them - and if I happen to exceed one it makes me feel good for days!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I think your word count is very impressive. I don't set myself word goals but more goals to do with the plot - as in "I'm going to get to this point". I find that way I keep the story flowing and know that I'm further down the road towards that magical finish line. When I concentrate on actual word count I find I concentrate less on the flow of the plot or plots and more on how many words I've written.

Everyone works differently and you've had a very good long weekend. Be proud - I certainly would be.

Elspeth

Stephen Tremp said...

I have to set goals, otherwise, I wander aimlessly. I have three basic goals when I sit dow to write: I try to write three pages, clean up three chapters, or perform research.
Stephen Tremp

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I think your word count is admirable and praiseworthy. If it were me, I’d be very happy. However, I can’t recall that I ever set goals. I just sit down and write until I’m done. Sometimes that might be a bunch, sometimes it’s not so much. Either way, I’m happy. Goals seem a little too structure for my writing tastes. I think I’d always be looking over my should to see where I was vis a vis the goal and not focused enough on the story. But, that’s just me.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for your good comments and kind words. It's always helpful to find out how my writing friends work (always looking for ways to do it better), and it's good for new writers to understand there's no one right way to get the job done.

I don't expect to get too much writing work done this weekend as I'll be at Colorado Gold in Denver, learning all kinds of new stuff and yakking with old and new friends. Should be a great energizer (once I've recovered from the exhaustion).

N A Sharpe said...

Patricia I think you did an amazing job. Its great to have targets to aim for. I liked the idea of target number of words a day the first time I did NoWriMo - I found I was more focused on the word count than on the content and quality of what I was writing. You have to give yourself goals, but also permission to put out the genuine effort and be proud of the work you have accomplished. You did a wonderful job and should be proud of yourself.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I think you did a really amazing job, Patricia.

Going for the stretch is how I set goals too, and while you may not have the satisfaction of actually achieving your goal, you know for sure that in striving to achieve it, you have stretched yourself to the maximum.

Now, if you had set a goal of 6,000 words (which is a good goal, considering it is double the average), you would have probably done 6,100 words, which why higher than your target would still have been less than what you actually achieved.

Great going.

Kerrie said...

Congrats on your word count. It is impressive. I like to set goals a little higher than what I know I can achieve. I need a little challenge.

Penny said...

Setting goals gives purpose and direction for making our dreams and visions become a reality. At determined2.com Promotes successful pursuit of goals in life.