When I started writing my first book I relied on my goal setting process a lot to keep me motivated and to have something tangible to measure my progress against. It was a structure that I had never before put in place and I still think that not having a structure had helped me fail to complete books in the past.
Because this structure was so successful for me the first time around I tried to maintain the exact same format the I moved into writing my second book. But what I found was that some of the variables had changed. I was querying that book whilst starting to write a second book. And as I grappled with my time constraints I found it was really hard to keep using the same formula.
I’d describe my approach with my second book as a little more organic, my word count target became more about a monthly target than weekly so that when I didn’t have as much time one week I didn’t feel like. I hadn’t put in the work. It worked well for me. Having more fluid targets and goals was really important while writing that book because I wrote it during a very difficult time at work which required me to significantly increase my hours, I had a lot less down time and on top of that I had some health issues which left me struggling to have the physical or emotional energy to do very much.
I’ve recently started my third book. I always find the first 20,000 words the hardest, I suffer with the most self doubt during this phase and I know that’s because my books are very character driven and it takes about that long to feel really comfortable with the characters.
I am sure that there are plenty of writers who can use the exact same process of scheduling and goal setting for every book they write, I’m not one of them. What the last three years have taught me is that it’s really important to do what works for you. That might seem stupidly obvious but with all the advice out there in the writing world about what you should and shouldn’t do I feel it’s worth reminding myself.
So this year my new goal setting plan is to do what’s right for the project i’m working on. That means accepting that the first 40,000 ish words will take longer than the second and building that into my expectations, that querying takes time, not just to send your query away but to process feedback and rejection.
All the guidance out there is great and some of it really helped me when I started out, it’s a bit like choosing the topping on your pizza, you wouldn’t choose to add mushrooms if you’re just going to pick them off again or it’s going to mean you won’t eat/enjoy your food.
How’s your planning going so far this year? I’d love to learn about what other writers do, feel free to tell me all about it in the comments.