Why Small Moments Are The Most Important Ones

Last year I signed up for a 10K run. Immediately thereafter, I was hit with a flood of panic. The run was less than two months away and I had not even jogged in six months.

In my mind I knew I would fail. But I decided to try anyway.

After I crossed the finish line, I slowed down to a walking pace and smiled. I could not believe I finished. I beat my target time and never walked. It was a feeling I won’t soon forget.

After the moment passed, I wondered, how did I do it? How did I go from not running for months to completing my longest distance in years?A man against the setting sun

The truth is, I didn’t get up and believe I was going to run a 10K on my first day of training. I mapped out a one mile run and began. After time, I throttled things up a bit and soon, I covered four to five miles in a single exercise.

This principle of starting where you can, right now, and battling back the fear is applicable to running and the writing of books. For my novels, I focus on a the current chapter, not the entire length of a book.

These small moments – days with mile runs and weeks with two thousand words – are the moments that matter in the end. Any grand, front stage moments start here in a state of quiet progress, day after day, with a target date in mind.

As I headed out for training runs this weekend in preparation for my 10K in a two weeks I was reminded of the power of a single writing session compounded one hundred times. The yield is a book.

Don’t forget about the every day. Don’t forget about the small moments of writing time. Put them together. You’ll be glad to did in a few months.

 

Writer, How Do You Hit Your Word Count Goal?

My ideal writing output has changed over time. I’ve tied the satisfaction with my work to words per week, hours allotted, and pages per month. Most of this effort is me trying to trick myself into writing as efficiently as I can during a challenging point in my life.

My key to finish any work is simple – do whatever it takes to keep going. The easiest way for me to keep writing is to take my focus away from the project itself and instead focus on the steps I need to take to complete it.

Stone steps 1

I enjoy taking something complex and tearing it down into smaller bites that help me understand it or conquer it. This is true whether I am building a desk, mowing the lawn, or driving to someplace I’ve never been, my mind is constantly looking for steps I need to take, like a map unfolding before me. Writing is no different.

I firmly believe if you sit down and tell yourself you are going to write an eighty-thousand-word novel, you will fail. If you start out and say “I am going to write the first scene or thousands words” and go from there, you have a better chance at succeeding. For me, writing has always been a joy. But doing the same thing day in and day out, even if I am creating new and exciting content, can grow old. And I, like you, need to figure out the best way to keep moving forward.

But for the writer, production is what we seek. The ability to create more stories. This week I am going to try something new.

I am going to write down seven different word count goals. 500 – five times, and 1000 – two times, on the dry erase board near my desk. Before I go to bed, I must erase one of these numbers. If I am tired, it is 500. If my wife has a project or is going out for the evening or it’s my writing evening, it’s a 1000.

By doing this, focusing on a small portion of words, I will have a better chance of hitting my word count goal on each one of the projects I want to accomplish.

2 blogs (300 word-ish each)

2500 on my YA novel

1500 on my e-book about writing with a family, job, and other life obligations.

To keep momentum, I will come to the blank page with a solid idea of what I want to write about by leaving a note where I left off. This should prevent me from losing the story thread between days.

This is just one method – focusing on bite sized pieces of larger projects. Once I am done with these pieces, it’ll be time to develop a process for editing. But one step at a time.

How do you keep going?

How do you ensure you keep moving forward with your books?

 

 

5 Ways to Succeed at NaNoWriMo

Before I begin I must be forthright. I’ve never attempted NaNoWriMo. But that does not disqualify me from sharing advice about a literary sprint such as this. How? I’ve done the 3 Day Novel Contest. Yes. NaNoWriMo – in three days.

That contest produced a 25,000 word novella with a wide cast of characters, weaving plot, and horrendous grammar, just like your NaNoWriMo project will.

Know you can do it! Super cliché right? Removing this mental hurdle is key. How do you know you can do it? Break it down. 2,500 words a day = a 75,000 word novel. This is more than adequate for any market.

Remove distractions. Turn off the wifi connector on your writing device. barricade yourself in your room or garage. Whatever you need to do to ensure you have absolute focus. One of my friends listens to music. Another requires silence. Do whatever it is that makes you dial in.

Be healthy. Take breaks. Get proper sleep. Go on walks. Spend time not writing. Spend time reading. Maybe choose one day a week where you don’t write. Don’t avoid it but don’t let your creative well run dry. This is paramount. Write 1,000 words and then go stretch your legs.

Don’t edit. This might be hard or not. But consider this – have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who interrupts you all of the time? Annoying yes? Let your inner artist out. This is not the final draft anyway. If you were a sculptor, your finished draft would be like finding the precise stone to chisel. Believe me, this is an essential ingredient to ensure you do not fall behind and win the competition.

Have your ending in mind. Plot all you want or not at all but have a solid ending. This will keep you going and make sure it will not be a chore to finish, because it can be. And also having your destination in mind will ensure you do not spend 30 hours and 30,000 words on something that does not work or does not interest even you.

I hope you are prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If you have ideas for how you are going to get through this, share them below.

Cheers,

Bob

How To Create An Effective Word Count Goal

Failure

Think about the last time you failed at a goal. Be it to land a job, run a triathlon, swim a mile, write a book, etc. Whatever it is, it weighs on you. It can be a mocking, dark cloud. You might have failed from lack of effort but those usually don’t hurt. I am talking about one that hurts, and hurts bad. Not a mosquito bite, but a side swipe by a car.

I’ve been side swiped on and off for the last seven years. Okay that might seem a bit dramatic but the stings have been there. I’ve gone through spurts where I have written a lot, and not written at all. This is not what a novelist does, I told myself. Novelists write every single day. They get up and write when they don’t feel like it. They write when they are tired and when they have no effort or words left. Still, they keep laying them down one by one.

I’ve read how Stephen King would spend hours every day finishing his daily word count, Hemingway too. These giants keep/kept a pace of writing deities. I used to think with a little bit of effort, I could do five hundred words a day. But then I’d have a bad day. A day where nothing comes together and my emotions are sapped. I’d given all I could to my family and gladly, but I’d get nothing on the page. There was no more time for artistic pursuits. This was a big issue for me. I’m serious about my work. This is what I want, but I keep failing at measly little daily word counts.

A Realistic Goal

I am reading the Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. It is an excellent read and I recommend it to any writer I know. In its pages I discovered something so simplistic I could punch myself for not trying it before (actually I did punch myself): the weekly writing goal.

Instead of walking around feeling like a failure five days a week, because I wrote only two hundred words those days, I’ve decided to aim for a weekly writing goal.

Here are three reasons weekly writing goals work

  1. They are flexible. With a life dominated by the sporadic, I could suddenly lose or gain writing time. Instead of being bummed or paralyzed you can be okay with not writing, or staying up late working toward your goal.
  2. It is a goal. Writers need goals. We need to be working for something. Be it a short story, poem, or novel, there needs to be consistent work and effort. Professional writers, like professional athletes, don’t get to where they are by being lukewarm in their pursuits.
  3. It builds momentum. I wrote 2547 words on my novel last week. I wrote 2 blogs (429, 589 words) and in my sons journal every day. It was nice to continually write. If I had a daily goal, I am sure missing one day would let the air of out my momentum and crush another day with ease. I want to stop that failing feeling.

For my weekly goals, I’ve decided to write:

3000 words on my novel.

2 blogs a week.

1 short story submission per month.

I do all of this while keeping track on a notebook. I always count backward to my goal 3000-0. It’s a physiological thing. Do whatever works for you.

Avoid the power of failure. Set an effective weekly writing goal and don’t compromise. Don’t make it 10,000 words if you don’t have the time and vice versa. Maybe you can only get 1000 words done per week. Whatever your goal is, keep striving and keep writing. If you have goal setting tips, please comment below.

Cheers,

Bob