A World Without Bookstores?

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A couple days ago, some disheartening news about Barnes & Noble was unleashed upon the literary world. In short, Barnes & Noble has suffered some very serious losses last fiscal quarter, giving many a sense of saddened deja vu. Because we’ve seen this before, and it didn’t end well for Borders. 

While I’m still holding out hope for a Barnes & Noble recovery, it does make me wonder what would happen if the last major chain bricks-and-mortar bookstore went under. 

While a world without bookstores would certainly make me very sad, I do believe that the book world would survive. Readers would continue reading and writers would continue writing—they’d just go about getting their books a little differently. 

I imagine a world without bricks-and-mortar bookstores would create an enormous push for online retailers like Amazon, as well as further encourage sales of e-books and e-readers. The print market would likely take a hit, as the physical shelf space would decrease dramatically, and readers would be faced with the choice of waiting a week for their print book to arrive, or waiting thirty seconds for their e-book to download. 

The literary world would change, certainly, but I believe wholeheartedly that it would evolve and survive. 

What we would lose, however, is the experience of a bricks-and-mortar store. Gone would be the days of browsing shelves of freshly-printed possibilities with a cup of coffee in hand. We would no longer be able to walk into a physical store dedicated solely to showcasing and selling stories. 

As someone who still feels a nostalgic sort of sadness every time I pass a closed ex-Borders store, I would without a doubt be heartbroken over the closing of Barnes & Noble, if it did come to that. But while we would mourn the loss of the books-and-mortar experience, I do believe that books would survive and the literary world would move on. 

It’d just be without a physical store. 

What do you think a world without bookstores would be like? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
What do you think the fall of Barnes & Noble would mean for the book world? (Click to tweet) 
What would a world without bookstores look like? One writer speculates. (Click to tweet)

9 Distractions for Waiting Writers

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So on June 13, something strange and wonderful happened. I woke up feeling energized and excited to get writing. I blasted through writing sprint after sprint and ended the day with 5,214 new words in my WIP.

I’d expected to be tired the next day, but I wasn’t. This happened, instead:

It was exhilarating, and wonderful, and I finished two weeks ahead of schedule, and I went to bed with a smile on my face and latent excitement in my veins.

When I woke the next morning, I was left with...now what? I wanted to dive immediately into edits, but I knew I edit most effectively after giving my manuscripts time to cool. I needed distance, even if I didn’t really want to take the time to let it settle.

I know I can’t be the only one who gets impatient while waiting for the cooling off period to end, and so I’ve devised a list of distractions. Enjoy.

  1. Catch up on that TBR pile. We all know how difficult it can be to make time to read while also making time to write. Sometimes, when in the middle of a first draft, your reading pile begins to grow. Now you have a little extra time—why not use it to read some excellent books?

  2. Read a book on craft. Now’s a good a time as ever to whip out your highlighter and dust off those writing books. Even better—take notes while you’re at it that you can use when you begin revising in a few short weeks.

  3. Work on another WIP. This has the added bonus of focusing your mind on something completely unrelated to the first draft you just completed. And as an extra extra bonus, you’ll have two (or more) WIPs to play with at the end of it.

  4. Get some research out of the way. For writers like me who tend to leave the bulk of the researching until the revision stage, now’s a good time to start taking notes and what you know you’ll need.

  5. Brainstorm with Pinterest. Yes, yes, Pinterest is an enormous time-suck if you let it...but it can also be a source of fantastic inspiration for your WIP. So it’s a worthy time-suck, IMO.

  6. Do some non-writing WIP-related activities. This can be a variety of things—create a mock-up book cover, write a language for your fantasy, fan cast your characters, or create an inspiration board. Just don’t open up that WIP quite yet.

  7. Go outside. Neil Gaiman said it best. We writers have a tendency of locking ourselves in our writing caves and regarding the sun as a fiery ball of kryptonite while writing. But sometimes it’s good to go outside and remember how to describe sun on your skin and wind in your hair.

  8. Spend time with family and friends. You know. Before they start to wonder if your keyboard ate you.

  9. Indulge in mindless hobbies. Look, you’ve done something amazing, something that millions of people haven’t—you’ve written a book! Now that you have a little extra time before you start editing, go ahead and indulge in something silly. Watch Hulu, go to the movies, practice your Colonial America assassin skills. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about indulging—you deserve it.

How do you distract yourself between WIPs?

Twitter-sized bites:
Are you in between WIPs? Trying not to go crazy while waiting? Here are nine distractions for writers.  (Click to tweet
Are you a waiting writer? Here are nine ways to keep your sanity intact. (Click to tweet)

Writing Tip: Listen to the Rhythm of Your Words

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. Its like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.” 
Gary Provost
Photo credit: A Girl With Tea on Flickr
I love that quote for several reasons, the most important of which being that it teaches a valuable lesson through example. 

You see, writing isn’t just about conveying a story or message—although that’s a large part of it. It’s about conveying meaning in the purest way possible, in a manner that doesn’t distract the reader from the meaning, but enhances the experience. 

I’m not talking about purple prose—the issue with purple prose is that the language becomes so flowery and overdone that it distracts from the intended focus of the words.

Instead, I’m talking about reflecting the rhythm of rain not just through description, but through the cadence of the sentences. About making a reader’s heart pound as they race through an exciting scene with shorter paragraphs, then slowing them down with longer sentences and blocks of text during a resting period. 

Because while forgetting to do this may not change the meaning of the story, it will change the reader’s experience as they work through the pages. An exciting scene weighed down by large blocks of text may lag and feel monotonous, and a would-be breathtaking description may fall flat. 

I’m not here to tell you to start obsessing over your sentence and paragraph length, but it’s certainly something to be aware of while writing and revising. Take note of the cadence of your words—read them aloud and listen to the rhythm of the sentences. 

Make sure that your readers can hear you say, listen to this, it’s important. 

Do you pay attention to sentence or paragraph length while writing or revising?

Twitter-sized bites: 
Do sentence and paragraph length change the reader's experience of your writing? One writer says yes. (Click to tweet
Do you pay attention to the rhythm of your writing? Here's why you may want to. (Click to tweet)

How (Not) to Support Your Favorite Authors

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I often talk about the writing aspect of the publishing world here at Writability, but today I’d like to do something a little different.

Today, I want to talk about readers. More specifically, the steps readers can take to be the most supportive, stupendously amazing fans in the history of absolutely 100% incredible fans. That’s a long title. We’ll call it MSSAFHA1IF because abbreviations are all the rage. 

Being the MSSAFHA1IF is easy! All you need to do is follow these seven easy steps, and you’ll be well on your way to being your favorite author’s best friend. 

How to be the MSSAFHA1IF (AKA: Most Awesomest Fan Ever to the Power of Infinity)*
  1. Illegally download their books. Who pays for ANYTHING nowadays? Besides, authors love it when you get their books for free, particularly when it’s through super-secret free channels. 

  2. Never leave reviews. I mean, it’s not like anyone actually reads book reviews, anyway.  

  3. Don’t tell anyone about what you’re reading. If they don’t already know about the awesome book you’re reading, then they don’t deserve to read it. Guard the knowledge of your precious with your life. 

  4. Be rude at author events. You know, refuse to leave the table when you get up there to sign, don’t actually buy a book, take loads of pictures and tell the other fans that they’re going to have to wait to get their book signed because the author loves you more than them.

  5. Be unenthusiastic when asked about their books. Being excited isn’t cool. When someone asks you if you liked a book, the last thing you want is to scare them away with your epic nerd factor. Instead, just give a noncommittal shrug and a “meh.” 

  6. Never reach out to the author. Authors don’t need your approval—they already know how awesome they are. 

  7. Don’t read their books in public. What if you drop the book in a puddle? Or forget it on a bus? Or lose it in a spontaneous fire? Or get food on it at that restaurant? Or spill coffee on it at Starbucks? The outside world is far too dangerous for books, and besides, you’re supposed to be protecting the knowledge of your precious, remember? 
*It’s sarcastic post day, again! Yay! Don’t do these things. Please. You’ll only break the hearts of every author ever. 

Are you an awesome fan? What so-called steps would you add to the list? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Do you enjoy reading? Have a favorite author? Here are seven easy steps to (not) being a fantastic fan. (Click to tweet)
Are you a book lover? Here are seven steps to making your favorite author very (un)happy. (Click to tweet

Pirating Books: It’s Not a Harmless Download

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Every once in a while, when chatting with a wonderful fellow reader about a fantastic book, the conversation will take a turn like this: 
Me: Have you read [book title]? It’s fantastic.  
Reader: Oh! I downloaded that book off [pirating website] onto my Nook not too long ago! I should start reading it! 
Queue internal raging. 

Look, I’m not going to lecture you about the legalities of pirating—we all know what is and isn’t legal, and the technicalities involving laws that are enforced and those that fall between the cracks. This is nothing new. 

Truth be told, what infuriates me about pirating isn’t even the law thing—it’s the wide-spread erroneous belief that pirating is a harmless wrong, like a white lie. But the truth is, pirating isn’t a victimless crime—by illegally downloading books, you’re harming the very people you want to support by reading and enjoying their books. 

I’m talking about the authors. 

Time and time again, when I talk to people who pirate material (whether books, music, movies, etc.), the argument I get is a variation this: the author/artist will be fine. One download won’t make a difference. 

That’s probably true—one download wouldn’t matter much. But that type of argument is making the assumption that you are the only person on the planet illegally downloading that book. And that’s simply not true.  

The other assumption often used to justify pirating is more of a subliminal message: published authors are rich and thus can take the hit from a pirated book. But by and large, this too is a falsification—writers make a living by (surprise!) selling books. And every book that is downloaded illegally is a hard-earned sale taken away from the author. 

With every book that you pirate, you’re basically telling the author that they don’t deserve your support. That you don’t value their hard work. That the book that they wrote is worth nothing. 

You’re essentially stealing from the very writers whose work you’re enjoying.

I don’t just avoid pirating because it’s against the law. I avoid it because if I think something is worth downloading, then it’s worth compensating the creator fairly for his or her work. 

What do you think? Is pirating books (or anything else) an acceptable practice? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Want to help support your favorite authors? Then don't do this. (Click to tweet)  
How is pirating books the equivalent of stealing from authors? One writer explains. (Click to tweet

Writing Tip: Know Your Character Truths

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Note: I'm guest posting today over at The Writer Diaries on cutting out distractions and finding time to write. Feel free to head on over there and say hello!

Every character has a few core beliefs, values or motivations that are integral to who they are. These “truths,” as I like to call them, are essential to a character’s identity, and are underlying influences on every decision they make. 

For example, in one of my WIPs, I have a character with two core truths: to avoid unnecessary loss of life at all costs, and to uphold and maintain honor. These truths not only influence his decisions, but at times come into conflict, which creates moments of indecision and internal struggle.

For a more accessible example, let’s take a look at “Sherlock.” While most renditions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes series follow the same core values with Sherlock’s character, the BBC TV series does an especially wonderful job highlighting Sherlock’s core truth and driving force; that is, solving the puzzle. To Sherlock, solving the puzzle is  the most important thing there is—and if he happens to save some people along the way, fantastic. But that’s not his motivation.

Now that we’ve defined the truths, you may be wondering when in the writing process is a good time to figure them out.

For effective character development, the sooner you know your character truths, the better. But if you don’t figure it out before you start writing, there’s no need to panic—it’s something you can refine during drafting and revision.

As for me, I tend to work out my character truths during the actual writing process as I become better acquainted with my characters. Sometimes, the truths reveal themselves during the first draft, but many times I have to dig a little deeper and really refine it through several rounds of revision.

In the end, what’s important is that you work out these truths for each of your major characters (yes, that means your antagonist, as well). Once you’ve worked out what really makes them tick, the rest will follow.

Do you know your character truths? When in the writing process do you tend to work it out? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
What are character truths and why are they important? Writer @Ava_Jae explains. (Click to tweet
Do you know your character truths? Here's why they're important. (Click to tweet)

On Manipulating Reader Emotions

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One of the first signs of a good book, to me, is when I begin to react to the story. Whether that first
reaction is a snicker, a gasp, or even a grimace, when I start to react to the words on the page, I know chances are good that I’m going to enjoy the book.

It’s these kind of reactions that I look for when reading my drafts aloud to my unsuspecting test subject (AKA: my lucky first reader). If my first reader laughs or gasps in the right places, I know the WIP is resonating emotionally, which is exactly what I want.

Before beta readers and critique partners, however, it can be difficult to determine whether or not your novel hits the right emotional chords. Truly, the only way to be sure that you’ve succeeded is with outside feedback, but there is a way to know whether or not you’re on the right track.

The answer is deceptively simple: it’s you.

A quick aside: I’m not really an emotional person. I’ve only ever shed tears over one movie in my lifetime (and I watch a lot of movies), and as far as I can remember, I’m pretty sure I’ve never cried while reading a book. I’ve come close, and I’ve definitely felt profound sadness over unfortunate events and losses in fictional stories, but I’ve yet to ugly cry over a book.

I tell you this, because despite my steely emotions, I pay close attention to how I’m feeling while I’m writing. As the creator of the characters and the world in your novel, it’s safe to say that you care the most for your story and its inhabitants, so if your writing isn’t affecting you emotionally as you write, chances are it’s not going to affect your readers, either.

As the lovely Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” 

You are the first indicator of emotional resonance (or lack thereof) in your novel. If you find yourself tearing up over a particularly heavy passage, or snickering over some great dialogue, chances are you’re on the right track to a great story.

Writers: what signs do you look for to check for emotional resonance in your novels? Readers: what books have you read that left particularly powerful emotional echoes? 

Twitter-sized bites:
The key to determining whether or not your story hits the right emotional chords? It’s you. (Click to tweet
Does your WIP resonate emotionally? Here’s one way to see if you’re on the right track. (Click to tweet)

How to Create a Word Progress Chart in Excel

Photo credit: All screenshots are mine.
Many of you may remember last month’s post on why I keep track of my word count progress, in which I mentioned an awesome NaNoWriMo chart and referred back to this picture.

While I couldn’t find a widget to replicate it, thanks to some awesome Twitter people (@YeseniaVargas32 and @MadelineDyerUK), I was able to figure out how to create one with a spreadsheet on Excel.

I love it so much that I want to share the process with you guys, so that you can create your own motivational word count progress chart in ten easy steps. Enjoy!
  1. Determine your goals. This chart will really only be useful to you if you have some kind of goal to work with. It doesn’t have to be one that’s set-in-stone, but in order to make this chart as beautiful as possible, you’ll want to determine a final word count goal and a deadline. In my case, I’m aiming for 70,000 words in forty days. 

  2. Set up the spreadsheet. In the first row you’ll want to set up your headers. If all you’re recording is the data for the spreadsheet, then you’ll only need two columns: Date and Total Word Count. Under the “Date” column, plug in the first day you will begin writing, and the day after that in the next cell. It should look like this:

  3. Select data. Click cell 2A, hold down shift and click cell 3B (or the first empty cell under the “Date” heading, and the second empty cell under the “Total Word Count” heading).

  4. Create chart. Select “Charts”> “Column” > “Clustered Column.” You will now have a very ugly and empty chart, with two dates running along the horizontal axis and strange numbers on the vertical axis. Don’t panic; we’re going to make it beautiful. 

  5. Set the horizontal axis. Right now there should be two dates on the horizontal axis. Double click them to open up the Format Axis menu. Select the “Scale” tab, and set the Maximum to your deadline, and the Major Unit to 1 and click Ok.

  6. Set the vertical axis. Double click the numbers on the vertical axis to open up the Format Axis menu again, but this time for the vertical axis. Once again, go to the “Scale” tab. Set the Maximum to your word count goal and the “Major unit” to 5000 or so, and click Ok. All of the numbers on the vertical axis have now disappeared, but they’ll reappear once you enter some numbers. 

  7. Select data (again). Click the whitespace in your chart to select the chart and the data. A highlighted box should appear around your selected data that looks like this:

  8. Adjust data input. Select the bottom left or right corner of the bounding box and drag it low on the spreadsheet. The idea is to select one cell for every day that you will write (so if you’re giving yourself forty days, select forty cells). It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can always adjust it later, but the easiest thing to do is select way more cells than you’ll need. 

  9. Start recording your data. Your chart is now ready to use. All you need to record is the total word count of your manuscript day to day, and the date. If you miss a day, record it anyway, even though your word count won’t have changed from the day before. As long as you record everyday, you’ll have a lovely chart that looks similar to to the one at the top of the post. 

  10. Bonus steps: 

    1. To remove the legend: Click the “Series1” label on your chart and hit the delete key. 

    2. To change the colors: You may select different colors with “Chart Styles” (in the chart menu above the spreadsheet) or by adjusting the settings in the Format Chart Area menu, which you can access by right-clicking the chart. Using Chart Styles, however, is much easier.  

And there you have it! Now go have fun with your awesome new word progress charts.

Twitter-sized bites: 
Want a NaNoWriMo-style chart to keep track of your writing progress? Here's how to make your very own: (Click to tweet
Writer @Ava_Jae uses Excel to create a word progress chart while first drafting. Have you tried this trick? (Click to tweet)

Writing Discussion: Do You Work on Multiple WIPs at Once?

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Every so often on Twitter, I will come across a writer drafting multiple WIPs at once. 

While this shouldn’t surprise me, as I’ve heard of more than a handful of writers (both published and not) who work in much the same way, the discovery inevitably merits raised eyebrows on my part and proud smiles (or fits of nervous laughter) from the other writer. 

I am forever in awe of writers who can pull this off.

You see, I am a very focused person, particularly when it comes to writing and reading. While I often have works marinating in my hard drive for later reworking, when it comes to first drafting or editing, I focus all of my energies on that one WIP. I immerse myself in the story entirely and shut out the rest of my writings until I’ve finished a round of editing, or writing, or whatever the case may be.

What trips me up, I think, is jumping between story worlds. While it clearly works for some writers, it’s something that I find rather jarring.

I’m the same way with reading. Unless two books are entirely different (ergo: a writing craft book and a novel), I don’t often jump between stories, although I do make exceptions. This does occasionally mean that I’ll fall behind in my reading goal when I hit a book that I’m having trouble getting through, but that’s another matter altogether.

Despite my aversion to working on multiple WIPs at once, however, I am well aware that many writers work well jumping from work to work. And so I’m interested to hear from you.

Do you work on multiple WIPs at once? Why or why not?

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writers: Do you write multiple WIPs at once? Join the discussion at @Ava_Jae’s blog! (Click to tweet
Are you a hyper-focused writer, or do you prefer to work on several WIPs at once? (Click to tweet

How to Write Through the Unknown

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With many WIPs that I’ve plotted out, I’ve found that I eventually hit the Dreaded Scene. Most times, this isn’t a scene that I dread because of the content (ergo: I don’t feel like writing this)—it’s a scene, and often an important one, that intimidates me because I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to happen.

If you’ve been a reader of Writability for some time (or have dug through the archives), then you may remember that I once wrote about how to plot with flashcards. I still use flashcards for plotting purposes, I just use virtual Scrivener flashcards rather than physical pile-on-the-desk cards.
The reason I mention this, is that while I swear by this type of plotting, it does mean that I don’t plot my scenes in detail—instead, I’ll have a couple sentences summarizing the action.

This works wonderfully, because it gives my characters room to stretch and make their own (sometimes unexpected) decisions within the framework of the semi-plotted scene. It does, however, have a downside, namely the Dreaded Scene.

This is probably partially my fault, but oftentimes while I’m plotting I’ll know that something especially important has to happen, but I can’t figure out for the life of me how. I’ll work out everything before and after that point, and I’ll get a general sense for what happens, but as for the details? I figure I’ll work it out later.

Inevitably, later comes when I’m writing and I hit the Dreaded Scene, and I’m still not sure how to work it out.

This is a how to post, however, because I’ve found that the best way to eliminate the dread and get through the scene is to sit down and force myself to figure it out. And as you may or may not have guessed, I use brainstorming lists to do so.

I head the list with the issue that I’m stuck on with the Dreaded Scene, in the form of a question, usually something along the lines of How does x happen? From there, I brainstorm as many possibilities as I can come up with. As is often the case with these kinds of exercises, the key is not to censor yourself, and write down even the most ridiculous of ideas. Once you have a significant list, you narrow it down to the more feasible options, and expand from there to detail step-by-step what happens.

You may now be wondering if the step-by-step bit is necessary. This will vary per writer, but I’ve found that when I’m truly stuck, most times it’s because I can’t envision what will happen. Writing down the steps, then, eliminates that problem and allows me to dive into the writing knowing full well how the events will unfold.

As it turns out, it’s significantly easier to break through a block when you know what lies on the other side. Go figure.

Have you ever encountered the Dreaded Scene? If so, what did you do to overcome it? If not, have you ever plotted or brainstormed with flashcards or lists? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Stuck on a scene in your WIP? Here are some steps to breaking through the block. (Click to tweet
Do you ever get stuck while writing? Here’s one writer’s strategy to beating the Dreaded Scene. (Click to tweet)

Discussion: Do You Write at a Specific Time?

Photo credit: North Charleston on Flickr
My favorite time to write is in the morning. While I don’t get up before the sun to do so, I often like to start the day by getting a blog post written or my first writing sprint completed.

While I don’t accomplish this as consistently as I would maybe like, I love the feeling of having completed all of my daily writing goals before noon. It gives me the freedom of having the rest of the day to blow those goals out of the water (assuming I have the rest of the day open to do so), or getting whatever else I need done with the satisfying knowledge that I’ve already accomplished what I needed to as far as writing goes.

However, while this is my favorite time to write, as I don’t get up ridiculously early to do it, it isn’t always feasible. While I suppose I could get up at five or so in the morning if I wanted to, until I find the inner strength to do so, I suspect I will continue with some late night writing sprints.

The difference for me, is that when I start earlier, I tend to be much more ambitious. Rather than stopping after meeting my minimum goal, I’ll do another sprint or two later on when I have the chance, and completely decimate the minimum while I’m at it. And it feels fantastic.

When I write later in the day, however, I’ll usually stop after meeting my quota. This is because I am at my laziest at the end of the day—I’m perfectly content to sit sloth-like in front of my monitor and catch up on my Hulu queue, or scroll through Twitter and tumblr until my eyes glaze over. Or sign off early and read. Reading is good, too.

I share this with you, because I’d like to hear about your writing habits. Do you have a specific time that you clock into writer-mode every day, or is your writing time more sporadic?  

Twitter-sized bites: 
Do you write at a specific time? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog! (Click to tweet)  
This writer prefers to write in the morning, but what about you? (Click to tweet)

Are Daily and Weekly Writing Goals a Necessity?

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I wrote not too long ago about the usefulness of keeping track of your word count progress, so I
thought it appropriate to cover an equally important and related topic—that is, daily writing goals.

I’d read early on about the importance of keeping a daily writing goal, and I have to say it’s probably one of the most useful bits of writing advice that I’ve ever followed.

You see, before I kept daily writing goals, I suffered from pretty frequent writer’s guilt. I would write, but even after a particularly successful writing stint, I would wonder if I’d written enough. Truth be told, no amount ever felt like enough—I always finished thinking, I could write more. 

Needless to say, it made writing needlessly difficult, as I was never sure if I’d made enough progress. It wasn’t until I started to set a daily goal that I was truly able to appreciate my progress and feel accomplished after a successful writing sprint.

In addition to helping to eliminate writer’s guilt, maintaining a daily writing goal accomplished something else as well—it encouraged me to write every day and make consistent progress on my manuscript.

Now that I’ve pretty near perfected a daily writing goal that works for me, I actually keep two goals—daily and weekly writing goals. Allow me to explain.

Using Scrivener (although a calculator would work just as well), I know that in order for me to finish the first draft of my current WIP by the end of the month (or at least reach 70k), I currently need to write 1,723 words every day, or 12,061 words a week. Because I’m an overachiever, I aim for about 2,000 words a day, or 14,000 words per week, which gives me a little extra wiggle room in case the sekrit project turns out to be longer than I anticipated.

The benefit of maintaining a weekly writing goal is again to fight writer’s guilt. If I miss a day, or even two, I know that I have the rest of the week to make up the difference, which usually equates to a couple hundred extra words a day. Nothing to sweat over.

The main idea behind daily and weekly writing goals is to train you to write every day—or at least as consistently as you can realistically manage. In order to use these writing goals most efficiently, there are two rules to follow:
  1. Set realistic goals. Look, I’m more than well aware that not everyone can expect to churn out 2,000 words a day, and that’s totally ok. Everyone has different circumstances, and if yours make it difficult to meet more than 1,000 or even 500 words a day, then don’t set your goal for any more than that. There are few things more discouraging than setting a goal impossible to meet, so instead start with a goal you know you can meet. Start small, and if you find you can easily meet the goal, then try bumping it up a little. Everyone has a different golden number—the key is just finding yours.

  2. Don’t guilt yourself over not meeting goals. Life happens. Inevitably, you’re going to eventually miss a day, or several days. You may find that you can’t meet your weekly goal one week, or you may discover halfway through the month that you’re behind schedule.

    It’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up over what you haven’t accomplished—instead, look at the progress you’ve made. Even small progress is progress—even twenty words added to your WIP are twenty words you didn’t have yesterday.

    If you find that you’re consistently missing your goal, then don’t sweat it—it’s probably a sign that you might want to reevaluate your goal. Set the quota a little lower and keep pushing forward. You’ll make it as long as you keep writing.

Do you keep a daily or weekly writing goal? Why or why not? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Why one writer lives by daily and weekly writing goals while first drafting. (Click to tweet
Do you keep a daily or weekly writing goal? Here's why you may want to consider it. (Click to tweet
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