This is my parent’s dog, Reagan. Reagan found a pail full of tennis balls that Dad tirelessly gathered out of the woods a few weekends ago. Reagan spent 10 minutes staring into that pail full of balls. Hesitant to pick the wrong one. Afraid she’d miss out on the best one.
I watched her. I picked one and tossed it in the yard. She can trotting back 5 minutes later and began her gazing routine again. Just mesmerized by all the choices. It was like a kid bobbing for apples. And she took her time before actually making a decision.
That’s what happens when there are too many options. Which ties into my writing goals.
See, when I got back from Italy, I set a goal of 1ooo words a day to finish my adult novel. I was at 62,412 words the first week of March. I’m now at 78,111. I think the book ends around 80K words. Maybe 83K.
Each week, I was proud of meeting my word count goal. 5k a week. It sounds hard, but 1k a day is 1-2 hours of writing. And about 3-4 of thinking and imagining.
But then when I hit 68K, I got scared. What was my next writing goal?
Sure I had to edit the entire manuscript. Send it to beta readers and get feedback, but what was my next story?
I got really nervous. What if there wasn’t one. What if the two books I’d written were all the story in me? And I didn’t want to write the next in the series. Since I don’t have the first book agented or sold yet.
So I went through my idea file. Where I write kernels of ideas. Flowers of characters. Sometimes a sentence. Once in a while a page or two.
And I found my next story. So I wrote the first 3 pages. Just enough to have a beginning. A place to go next. And now I have no anxiety about finishing the adult novel. Because I know where I go next.
As I finish the other novel, backstory flies around my head for the next story. Things I need to know to write it, even if the reader doesn’t find out. The characters are talking to me. Telling me what I need to know. Making me want to outline. To get it all down.
For me, goals have always steadied my hand. Given me a focal point. A purpose. So I tend to set them. I tend to adhere to them. And I value them. For the security they provide.
What are your writing goals? What sort of personal timetable do you set for yourself? Or do you just let things flow without expectations?