Starting the New Year 60,000 Words Ahead
Posted on 02 January 2013
I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. This year, while I stuck to my resolution-less guns as usual and made zero plans to change my life on Jan. 1, I did set a big goal to meet before the end of 2012: complete 60,000 words of my new novel in progress. And I’m happy to report that I met that goal.
This is the novel that grew out of an idea I came up with at Bread Loaf. I wrote the first chapter in September and wrote another 30,000 words during my Writers in the Heartland residency. But then life and work got in the way, and I didn’t work on the book for well over a month, even when a man in a turban warned me to stay focused. Finally, in the last week of November, I decided I’d write an additional 28,000 words by Dec. 31 to bring the book to 60,000.
I started slowly by writing only 500 words a day until December, when I upped my daily word count to 1,000 words. At first I was strict with this word count, but after a few weeks I loosened up. Some days I wouldn’t work on the novel at all, and at other times I’d write 2,000 or 3,000 words a day. It all came together perfectly on the afternoon of Dec. 31, when I finished a chapter and brought the book to 60,009 words.
A few years ago I set a goal of writing 2,000 words a day every day, no excuses, for a month, but that schedule (at least while also working full time) was overwhelming and didn’t allow any time for reflection. My goal this time around was much more reasonable, and it was also more fluid. If I worked hard for a few weeks but then needed five days off to give myself some breathing room, I did just that. I kept a running tab of my word count, which you can see pictured above. This kept me motivated and was a nice visual reminder of my progress.
Right now I need to slow down and figure out what happens next, so I’m taking at least a few days off before I get back to work. I hope to have a draft of this novel done by April. I do think that’s possible, but I also don’t want to rush it. This is not a race.
For more on resolutions and writing goals, see Nova’s post “In Which I Fail (Most of) My Resolutions… But End 2012 on a Good Note (Really)” for an honest look at her own writing goals for 2012 and how she feels about not meeting all of them. And if you’re into resolutions, hers are worth stealing.
What did you accomplish in 2012?