A Good Goal Makes Me a Better Writer

Megan Norris Jones

The beauty of Write by Midnight is that it allows each of us to set our own goals for the month of February. The only requirement is to write every day by midnight. Writing every day this month will be a challenge in itself, since I have some traveling to do, but I wanted to set a more specific goal for this month-long focus. I’m currently revising a manuscript that I’ve been working on for longer than I like to think about, but Scrivener politely reminds me every time I open it by popping up a “Document created on” date. I’m not going to tell you when it was. It’s embarrassing. And it’s time I finished this puppy up.

I was three-quarters of the way through this revision at the end of January, but Act III needed a complete rewrite. I already had about 6,000 words in Act III, but I anticipated needing closer to 20,000 to finish it. That meant I needed to write another 14,000 words to complete this draft. February has 28 days, which meant I needed to write about 500 words a day, 3,500 words a week. That’s doable, but a stretch for me. I usually only get in two to three solid writing sessions a week, with other days just fifteen minutes or so between activities to keep my head in the story.

We are now a week and a half into the challenge. So how am I doing? Thus far I’ve written 8,001 words, for an average of 800 words per day. That’s more than halfway to my goal of 14,000 words in the month of February.

Setting this specific goal has given me a concrete objective to push toward. I haven’t given myself one in a while, and, as a result, my writing has meandered along at a painfully slow pace. Working with a deadline is incredibly motivating for me, and I can already tell my productivity is improving.

Sure, I’ve had a few slow days with low or—even—no word counts, but the overall pace of my writing has picked up substantially as I’m rising to meet the goals I’ve set for myself. After Write by Midnight ends, I’m planning to continue setting monthly goals based on where I am in the revision process. This month I focused on word count, but another month I might track writing hours or number of scenes revised. And soon, I hope to start tracking number of queries submitted.

What were your goals this month? How are you working to achieve them?

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