Goals and Goal Setting

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Goals and Goal Setting
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today — but the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.” Isaac Asimov

“As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.” Ray Bradbury

Goals and Goal Setting

It’s coming up time to consider setting or adjusting daily, maybe weekly or monthly, and annual writing goals.

As I lean back and relax against the Bradbury quote for a moment, I suggest that in setting goals also the writer should start by figuring out what is possible. Instead of, say, beginning with the assumption of what is not possible.

Back on October 20 I wrote a post titled “Numbers Do Not Lie (It’s Called Practice)” I wrote that I hope to reach at least age 82 before I kick off, and that by then I would like very much to have written 200 novels.

When I wrote that post, I assumed I would have finished my 70th novel on or before my 70th birthday, and that isn’t going to happen. But it doesn’t matter.

To start with clean math, let’s assume that to reach the goal of 200 novels by a particular date, I would have to write 130 novels in 12 years.

I can almost see and hear some of you shaking your heads. “Nope, that’s impossible.” But it isn’t. In fact, it’s entirely possible for anyone who writes into the dark.

Often when something seems impossible, the math proves it’s not only possible but may be achieved relatively easily: 130 novels in 12 years = 11 novels per year = 60,000 words per month (with one month off, ahem, as if) = 2000 words per day (2 hours of ‘work’). Not a bad way to make a living. (grin)

But let’s strain the example a bit, because Why Not?

If I wanted to write TWO hundred and thirty novels in that same 12 years, that would be 19 novels per year for 11 years and 20 novels for one year.

Writing 19 novels per year would require a new novel every 2.74 weeks, so about every 19 days. Completely possible. Writing 20 novels in that one year would require turning out one new novel every 2.6 weeks, so about every 18 days. Ditto. Entirely possible.

Again, in the first 7 months of 2021 (so 181 days) alone I turned out 13 novels, an average of one new novel every 14 days. In other words, I was on pace to write 26 novels in 2021. I was writing around 3000 to 4000 words per day of fiction, and I was enjoying every minute of it.

Still, I guess maybe those are extreme examples, though long-time prolific writers wouldn’t think so. But maybe you have limits. Maybe you have a job or other obligations, so you can write only so many days per week or so many hours per day. That’s fine.

You don’t have to aspire to write 19 novels per year, or even 11, or even 4 to be considered prolific. Writing two 60,000 word novels per year (so 10,000 words per month or 334 words per day) will have people blathering on about how wonderfully prolific you are.

And writing 334 words takes, on average, about 20 minutes (@17 words per minute). Most of us spend longer than that (cumulatively) in the bathroom each day. So just sayin’, you CAN carve out the time to write if you really want to. If you can carve out one hour per day, and if you spend that hour actually writing, that’s 365,000 words per year. (That’s more than six 60,000 word novels per year.)

The purpose of goals and personal challenges is to make you reach, to add to your practice time by driving you to the keyboard, and to add to your inventory by driving you to finish more novels or short stories.

But all of that requires your participation. The new calendar dawn that’s approaching will also provide the perfect opportunity for some of you to toss aside whatever fears are holding you back and give writing into the dark an honest try. If you do, chances are a whole new world will open up for you, as it did for me 8 years ago.

I hope you will consider what is possible. Not necessarily easy (and certainly not overly easy) but not really difficult either. Just possible vs. impossible.

Of course, also bear in mind the elephant dictum: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Forget writing a novel. Writing an entire novel is as impossible as eating an entire elephant.

To achieve your goals, trust your characters to tell their story, and actually write while you’re in the chair. Just write a sentence, then another and another. When the scene ends, write another scene. Keep following the characters, and they will lead you through to the end. And one day you will look up to find you have written a novel.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “MegaThreats” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/megathreats/. Story ideas.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 850 words

Writing of The Stirchians (novel, tentative title)

Day 21… 2621 words. Total words to date…… 42178

Total fiction words for November……… 16067
Total fiction words for the year………… 177592
Total nonfiction words for November… 13350
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 188980
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 366572

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 68
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: Because It Makes Sense, I preach trusting your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. Duh. This practice greatly increases your productivity and provides a rapid ascension along the learning curve of Craft because you get a great deal more practice at actually writing. This is not opinion. It is all numbers and facts.