When I joined Camp NaNoWriMo in July to kick start my first novel, I didn’t know what word count goal to set. Since I’d participated in Write Nonfiction in November last year, I knew I could at least get 10,000 words written in a month, so I set that as my goal.
Then I changed the word count to 15,000, because I thought I should “push” myself. As the month progressed, I saw I was getting more words written than I thought I would, so I changed the word count to 20,000. Then to 25,000.
Sometimes I wrote in the morning and sometimes in the evening. Sometimes I wrote very little and sometimes I was on a roll. Some days, I didn’t write at all.
But I made it! I wrote 25,074 words. I surprised myself!
After Camp was over, my novel sat untouched for two weeks. I kept finding so many other things that needed my attention during the day. By evening, I was too tired to write anything.
Then earlier this week, I was reading Joanna Penn’s Author 2.0 Blueprint (it’s a free download on her website). In it, she links to her blog post about creating a daily writing habit. There, she suggests reading Dean Wesley Smith’s post about production schedules. I was amazed by what they said!
First, come up with how many words you want to write in a year. Then, time yourself to see how many words you can write in an hour. (I can do at least 1,000–if I have something to write about, that is.) Use this to figure out how many words per week you need to write to reach your goal.
Dean Wesley Smith gives this example: If you want to write 250,000 words a year (three books of just over 83,000 each) spread over 50 weeks (leaving two weeks for vacation), then you need to write 5,000 words a week. If you can write 1,000 words in an hour, this would be five hours a week of writing. That’s all! He emphasizes this is “new words only.” Editing and researching or anything else for your novel is to be done outside of your production schedule.
I decided to try this schedule and write only on week days, leaving myself the weekend to do other things. When I realized I’d only be writing an hour a day, five days a week, I felt I’d “freed up” the rest of the day for research or anything else for my novel, blog posts, and any personal- or work-related things that I need to do.
I started my production schedule this past Monday and have managed to keep it up all week. Mornings are best for me, and the earlier the better to avoid interruptions. However, I noticed as the week wore on, I was starting later and later. I need to work on that. Right now, I’m resisting setting a time to start writing.
I know I need schedules and goals to keep myself focused. Otherwise, I’m all over the place and time slips by.
I hope I can keep up this production schedule. I’ll let you know!