Setting goals is easy. Accomplishing them, slightly less so. The trick to getting the job done is planning.
My friend Heather’s father-in-law has a saying: prior proper planning prevents piss-poor performance. Texans sure do like their sayings. And they’re usually good ‘uns. This is no exception.
Prior Proper Planning
All this means is that you need to start out with a good plan. Think about what you want to accomplish and work backwards from there. If you plan on finishing a novel in the next month, or three months, or year, take out a calendar and circle a deadline date on it. Then see how many working days you have from now until then. Now you can divide the number of words you think it will take you to finish your novel by how many days you have. That’s your daily word goal.
Preventing Piss-Poor Performance
Setting a daily goal means nothing if you can’t actually meet it. So organize your ideas to make sure you always have something to write about. Take a couple of days to make notes about your story. You may already have some scenes in your head like: Karl and Anya find the alien spaceship. Even if you have a clear idea of how a scene is going to play out, don’t write it now. This is the planning stage. Don’t get sidetracked.
Some of your ideas may be general notes about a character: their favorite color, a particular quirk, a pet peeve. Write everything down. Divide this information by character if you can for easy reference.
Now you’re ready to start writing. But you still have to pay attention because things may change.
As you’re working, new ideas will come and old ones may no longer be viable. This is good. A story that takes on a life of its own is more exciting. Take the time to stop and review your notes and write new ones. Adjusting the plan will ensure you always have something to write about when you sit down to meet your goals. And before you know it, that deadline will be upon you, and you’ll have a finished manuscript to show for it.