I truly believe that writing can heal our hearts … Even if you never share your writing, the release of the energy and emotion within your body can be truly life saving. So, for those of you that are interested in sharing your story in a bigger way, this blog, The Writing Nook, is for you. And, for those of you that just want to heal and release your story, this blog is for you too … For those of you that don’t know if writing is for you or not, I’m sure you’ll find something in here to resonate with as well. Enjoy … and please … I’d love to hear what your thoughts are in the comments below. Can you relate? Let us know what you think – Blessings SDJ♥
Mapping Out Your Book Writing Goals
If you have a book you’ve been wanting to write, you may be wondering where in the world even to begin! As an author coach, I’ve worked with numerous authors through the book-writing process, and there’s one common theme I’ve noticed: those who set short-term goals for their book before they start writing are usually the ones who meet success and actually finish the book.
I’ll explain. Typically, when aspiring authors set out to write a book but do not give themselves a deadline by choosing a desired completion date, they may actually sit down to get started, but then do you know what happens? Usually, they start out strong and get the first few chapters finished, but then working on the book daily turns into only writing on the weekends or when they feel “inspired.”
Before long they become lackadaisical about writing the book, and one year turns into two, and two into three, and so on…
By selecting a dedicated completion date, you’ll have a tangible goal to work toward each day. Personally, I like to set a goal of 90 days to complete a first draft when I set out to write a book. I circle the completion date on my calendar, and I work on the book for a minimum of one hour each day until it’s finished.
I know what you’re probably thinking…
“I’m too busy to write a book that quickly…”
“If I write a book that fast the quality of the book will suffer…”
“I have too many family and work obligations to write a book right now…”
I know, because I hear the same things time and time again from prospective authors. It’s true, sometimes we set out to do something and life has other plans for us. Some things are simply outside our control. Although sometimes these excuses are legitimate, I find that often they are rooted in fear or self-doubt.
The truth is, all writers suffer from self-doubt and fear, myself included! But if you want it badly enough, you have to work through those blocks that arise, and that starts by having a solid plan of action before you begin, and then making a commitment to stick to it and work diligently toward your goal each day.
Keep in mind, I’m talking about the first draft here. It takes time to revise, polish and craft the final draft, and there will likely be many drafts of your book before publication, but for the sake of this article, let’s map out a plan to complete the first draft of your book.
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
― Shannon Hale
The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. Transferring the information and ideas from your head to paper (or computer) so you can later craft it into a book. It doesn’t have to be perfect; in fact, nobody even has to see the first draft other than you. So then, why all the pressure? Often we are our own worst critics. That darn ego barges in and tries to sabotage our goals and dreams. We must learn to silence the ego, push through those blocks, and finish the projects we set out to create.
Finding Your Target Daily Word Count
I have a proven system that works for me and has worked for many of my students and clients, and it can work for you, too.
Here’s an Example:
When I set out to write my book, Authorpreneur, last year, I knew what type of book I wanted to write: a non-fiction book for my business. I estimated my book would have 40,000 words upon completion, a good starting goal for a non-fiction book.
Once I had my goal word count, I decided how many days of writing I would allow myself. I decided on 90 days. If I had set out to write a memoir or a 350-page work of fiction, I might have given myself more time. Maybe not.
So now I had my goal word count, 40,000 words, and I knew I wanted to complete my book in 90 days, so it was easy for me to find a target daily word count, or the number of words I needed to write each day to meet my goal.
Target Daily Word Count Formula:
Goal Word Count divided by # of days = ___________Target Daily Word Count
I’ll use myself as an example:
40,000 divided by 90 days = 444 Target Daily Word Count
There you have it! In total, my TDWC was 444 words. That’s about two pages per day.
Do you think you can commit to writing two pages per day? If so, then you can complete a first draft in just 90 days!
But here’s the kicker: I set out to write my book in 90 days, but ended up finishing it in just 60 days! How? First, I decided on a completion date and put my goal in writing. There’s something magical about putting our goals in writing that makes them materialize, so I not only wrote it on my calendar, but I also wrote it on a post-it and stuck it to the side of my computer monitor, I wrote it on my bathroom mirror—anyplace where I would see it daily as a constant reminder of my goal and deadline.
Now, I’m extremely busy, just like you. I didn’t have extra time in my day to write a book. I had to create time. Which meant I had to get up an hour earlier each day. Instead of getting up at 7 am, I got up at 5:45 each morning. I figured getting up that early for three months of my life would not kill me. Looking back, I’m so glad that I did, even though I had some groggy, unmotivated mornings along the way!
Regardless, I committed to one hour of dedicated writing each morning while the house was still quiet before I checked my email or scrolled through social media. I got up, made my coffee and went straight to my computer to complete my one hour of dedicated writing time, whether I felt “inspired” or not.
Perhaps you’re more of a night owl and prefer writing in the evening or once your family goes to bed. That’s perfectly fine. You’ll have to find what works best for you and get creative with your schedule.
“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
Were there days when I couldn’t fit in my daily writing? Of course, I’m human, things happen. Life happens. But when those days arose I took note of how far behind I was in my daily word count and I either made up for that lost word count on the following day, or over the weekend.
Tips for Success
- Resist the urge to edit as you write. There’s a time for self-editing and revision, but it’s not during your dedicated writing time. Why? Because each time you stop to second-guess yourself, you stop the flow of creativity and it takes approximately 20 minutes to get back into that creative flow. If you only have one hour of writing time set aside each day, you can’t afford to break that flow, because that’s when your best writing emerges.
- Record your word count each day. I set out to write one hour each day, and I kept a notepad next to my computer and recorded my word count. Even on days when I surpassed my hour of writing, I would break at the hour mark and record my word count before continuing.
- Each day, try to surpass the prior day’s word count. Not only is this a good way to silence the ego, but it will also make you a much faster writer in the long run.
By recording my daily word count and trying to surpass it each day, I found that I was writing 1000-1500 words per hour, more than doubling my target daily word count, which is how I was able to meet my goal in 60 days instead of ninety.
So you see, you can complete a first draft in a short time frame, but it takes a strong commitment to your goal, and a willingness to get creative with your schedule and make your book and your writing a priority.
Of course, you’ll need additional time for self-editing and revision, and then professional editing and crafting your final draft, but first you need to complete the first draft so you have content to work with, and truthfully, getting started is the hardest part. But once you begin and you start to see progress, you’ll gain excitement and momentum, and before you know it you’ll meet your goal. ~ Shanda Trofe
PS: If you’d like to be a contributing author in my next book, 111 Morning Meditations, check out how here: https://sdjproductions.net/111-morning-meditations-author-registration/
Shanda Trofe is a best-selling author, publisher, and author coach. As the founder of Spiritual Writers Network and Transcendent Publishing, she’s made it her life’s work to assist aspiring authors through the book-writing process and on to publication. Shanda helps writers find their voice and extract the unique messages from within. She resides in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two fur babies. www.shandatrofe.com.
PS: Shanda and I are facilitating a Writers Retreat workshop in the Florida Keys in November 2017. Check it out here