Writing is something that I have undertaken in one form or another for over 15 years. I have written both on a personal and professional level. With frequency varying everywhere from daily to monthly.
The longest period that I have consistently written for was a 90-day period early in 2017. Where I was writing and publishing a blog post every single day. In the coming year, I want to take my writing to the next level and write on a much more consistent basis throughout the year. For that reason I have chosen a rather high word count for my goal;
One Million Words
The goal is something that scares me just a little and will take me out of my comfort zone. In the past, I have had individual days that if put together would easily achieve this goal. However, there is a big difference between a single day and repeating that effort consistently every day for a year.
I have maintained some records for my writing occasionally and one of the best days in recent years was over 5200 words on the 12th of February 2018. If I repeated that day 366 times it would be almost 1.9 million words. Thankfully, I have not put that pressure on myself.
To achieve the goal of 1 million words this year, I would write just over half that many words per day or 2,732 exactly. Although my start on the goal has dragged into February now and puts me just around 3,100 per day. It does not take long for that daily target to move up significantly, something I will have to monitor.
With any massive goal, there will be several challenges that come along with it. One of which I already identified above, the daily target creep, which can be difficult to notice. But we can offset them with days where the writing flows much more freely. There is potential with the right preparation or organisation to double or even triple the daily target.
Another challenge with this goal is remaining focused on the goal for the entire year. I start the year with the presumption that this will remain a major focus. However, there is a potential for circumstances to change where I find a more productive use of time. If I saw that writing was not producing the results I am looking for, especially around my other goal for income, I would consider changing my focus. While I have a goal that I want to pursue, if something arises I do not plan to be ignorant, I am prepared to adjust to the most suitable course of action.
Another challenge that I have identified is just how to keep track of my word count effectively. I have tried different methods in the past and while I found the paper-based method most effective; it was difficult to maintain long term. Thankfully, this is a challenge I believe I have found a solution for, which I will discuss below.
There are two particular cases under which not achieving the goal might occur. The first is where I do not achieve the goal because I did not put in the effort. This is something that I want to avoid, but if the year continues how it has begun in January, this is a real potential outcome. Here the achievement of the goal would be a complete failure.
The second case is where my circumstances change as mentioned in the above challenge. If a new focus for myself comes up, I am more than happy to admit defeat on the goal. Only under the knowledge that I achieved something equal or better than the goal I let go. Because I do not know what potential situations might occur, I cannot plan extensive contingencies. However, if this will be the case you can expect that I will fully explain the circumstances and choices I have made.
Getting started with a long term big goal like my writing goal is never easy. Especially when my starting point is so far away from the finishing point that I need to achieve. What I mean by this is that over the past six months I have been writing sporadically. In this period I doubt that I have written even 30,000 words, which is a long way from the nearly 3,000 words per day that I will need over the next year.
The first step in this process is to ensure that I am scheduling time each day to write. Even if I am initially not reaching the word count target that I need, it will be ok. I feel that getting myself into the habit of daily writing will allow me to develop the habits that I need to write larger amounts per day.
The second step will be to schedule time for research and outlining topics to write about. I have found that having a plan for my writing and the information all collated beforehand results in better writing outcomes. It’s far too easy to sit staring at a blank screen for an hour and writing nothing. However, with the correct planning that same hour could see a significant amount of writing.
Review & Adjustment
The importance of having a goal with a quantifiable metric is that you take the time to review and adjust your approach depending upon your results. So I want to set out how I will do that for my writing goal this year.
My intention is for weekly reviews on my progress, which will start from February 9th, 2020. The reason for the late start of weekly reviews is that I have dragged my feet a little in getting my goals sorted out. While they have been in my mind since the beginning of the year, I have taken far too much time to get them together.
The weekly time frame I believe is the best for two reasons. When you review something like this daily, you micromanage the process too much. In some respects, I see that what you achieve on an individual day is not as important as what you achieve over a week. One day I may write only 1,000 words and another day 5,000 words, but on balance may average to the daily target required.
One important aspect of the review process for me is identifying a method to track my word count. I have found a program called Ulysses, which is a notepad like program, which offers a lot of additional features for writers. One that I will make use of is the goal feature on folders. I have created a folder structure with a folder for every day of the year. When I write something I make a copy of that writing in a new sheet within the folder for that day. This allows me to see daily, monthly, and yearly progress. I am not saying that this is a perfect solution, but it is one that I have identified will solve my problem.
Writing Goal Updates
As I work towards this goal over the coming year, I will add any links or other information related to the goal below.