by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
As a busy mom, I’m squeezing my writing time out every day. For you, you might be limited by a day job or an elderly parent, an illness, or other responsibilities.
I’m averaging writing between 3 1/2 and 4 books a year.
That might sound like I’m pouring an excessive amount of time each day on my writing.
I’m really not. I really can’t.
I started, in January, to write the two books that I’m contracted under to finish by July. They are in two different series.
To do this, all I have to write is 3 1/2 pages a day until I hit 275 pages for each book. In one month, you end up with slightly over 100 pages.
I’ll admit that I’m a pretty quick editor, but that’s just from practice and a knowledge of the kinds of screw-ups I typically make. After each book goes through my publisher’s editorial process, I have even more data on the types of errors I should watch out for the next time.
I wake up at 4:50 a.m. , an hour before I get my children up. I usually write nearly three pages in about 40 minutes. The rest of the time I check emails, respond to messages on social media, and plan blog posts.
I don’t have a full outline for my stories. I do have an idea where I want to go. But I always know what I want to write the next day. I also have a note reminding me where I left off the day before. This helps me jump into my story when I open up the document on my computer.
The rest of each day’s writing goal I finish outside my son’s high school while I’m waiting in the carpool line for about 20 minutes.
On good days where the words are really flowing, I’ll write more. Days when I have unexpected dead space, I’ll write a little more.
It doesn’t really take that much time. And most people won’t want to write three or four books a year. One is enough for many.
For one book, you again just need to think about what makes a reasonable goal. I’m pretty fond of a page or a page and a half for writers who are just trying to establish a regular writing habit. Or maybe if you set yourself a weekly goal, instead of a daily one.
I think the problems crop up when you have a goal that’s really big…like a chapter a day. I’ve only once set a chapter a day goal and and I was sitting right on top of a very scary deadline that had sneaked up on me.
Let’s say your goal is 1.5 pages a day. That’s 270 pages in just 180 days. That goal still leaves you half a year to edit, even if your first draft is a disaster and you’re a slow editor. A page a day gets you 275 pages in a little over 9 months.
I found I could always hit a page a day or seven pages a week. This was when I had a toddler in the house and life was especially crazy. It might mean that I had to write two pages some days to play catch-up (sick baby, sick mama, travel, holidays), but I could definitely hit that goal on a weekly basis.
I also noticed that if I wrote regularly, I could hop right into my story again with very little trouble.
If I finish a book early, then I start right in with the next book.
The most important thing is not to get discouraged. Writing a book can seem like this tremendous challenge. If we break it down into achievable blocks, it keeps us motivated.
Another tip? Don’t be critical of your first draft. It’s fixable. :)
How do you set and hit your goals? Do you have page goals or time-related goals? Daily or weekly goals?