Posted On January 6, 2012 by Print This Post

Setting Goals For Your Writing by Andrew Grey

Andrew’ Grey’s books are varied in setting, full of real characters you can relate to, and so tender in execution and style. When I read one of his books, I always feel like a member of the family of characters instead of a third party reader. I’m thrilled to have him here today and two commenters will be even luckier to win one of his books – your choice from his catalog. Andrew is also working today, so he’ll  be popping in to answer your comments as he can.

Setting Goals for Your Writing.


The one question I get asked most often is how I can write as much as I do. For me, the answer to the questions is quite simple: I set goals and I meet them. Now, before to go into my goal-setting philosophy, I should tell you that in 2011 I wrote ten novels and as many shorter works, ranging from novellas to a few short stories. I didn’t do that based upon a simple notion or the onset of a particular bout of inspiration. I wrote and consequently sold that many stories because I set a specific series of goals for myself. (I’m going to use my 2011 goals as an example, but the numbers aren’t important. It’s using the process to push yourself that really counts.)

Annual Goal
Set an annual goal. This should be at a high level and in increments that are easily broken down. It should also stretch you, but be attainable in the long run. As an example, my goal for 2011 was 600,000 words.

Hint: This goal should not be anything that’s out of your direct control. This goal should not include something like getting an agent or selling a manuscript. While great things, those are out of your direct control and can lead to failure. You could add to your goal that you will send out a certain number of submissions. But keep your goals to things you can control, that way you’re more likely to succeed.

Break It Down
Now that you have an annual goal, you need to break it down into manageable pieces. First, break it down into a monthly goal that you can track and report to your support group, your best friend, or anyone who will kick you in the butt if you don’t succeed. Based upon my 600,000-word annual goal, that meant a monthly goal of 50,000 words.

With that monthly goal, that meant writing 2,000 words a day for 25 days, or 1,667 words a day for 30 days. So now we’ve gone from a huge annual number to a manageable daily number.
Hint: When I’m setting my daily targets, I consider a month to be 25 days. There is at least one day a week that I don’t write, and other things always come up. Using a 25-day month builds in some time for interruptions.

Find the Time
Writing takes time and dedication, and meeting your daily writing goal requires some planning. You need to determine where you are going to find the time to meet your daily goal. If you feel that writing 2,000 words a day is going to take three hours, then you need to determine where those three hours are going to come from. If that isn’t possible with your schedule, then adjust your monthly and annual goals accordingly. But don’t do that at the drop of a hat. Really look at your daily schedule and figure out where you’re going to find the time to write. (I write during my lunch hour and can usually get 1000 words. That means that by the time I get home, I’m already halfway there.)

Hint: Once you have set your goals, write them down and share them with anyone who will listen. Setting goals is one thing, but having a support group will help you meet those goals. I can’t stress too much the importance of the support group who can kick your butt when you’re not meeting your goals. (I belong to my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, and every month, I have to stand up in front of the group and tell 20 other people whether I made my goal or not. I have stayed up until well after midnight to write that last thousand words so I would make my goal rather than have to report that I didn’t make my goal. Besides, there are goal prizes, and I’ll all about the prizes.)

You can always start at the bottom and work your way up to an annual goal. 1,000 words a day leads to 25,000 words a month and an annual goal of 300,000 words. But the real objective is to push yourself. Set the goal you really want and then figure out how you’re going to achieve it, rather than the other way around.

I understand that this method may not work for everyone, but it’s what I do each year. I just set my writing goal for 2012 and I’m off to a great start. I hope you are as well.

***

What is your method to meet your writing goals?  What’s worked for you in the past?  What hasn’t?

Harlequin Special Editions author, Helen Lacey, shares the inspiration for her book on Monday.

***

Bio:
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation. Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Andrew’s website

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Discussion

35 Responses to “Setting Goals For Your Writing by Andrew Grey”

  1. Andrew – Thanks so much for being our guest today.

    I also have daily wordcount goala but lately I’m having to shift around my writing time due to a new family schedule. How do you manage a schedule change – a sudden meeting over your lunch hour.

    When you plan your books – do you heavily pre-plot? Outline? Or do you sit down and just write?

    Thanks! Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | January 6, 2012, 5:37 am
  2. When I have a shift in schedule, I try to make it up in other parts of my day. Often for me that means writing more in the evening. However I may exceed my goal one day and bank it against the days when time runs short. For me the purose is to make sure I meet the longer goals.

    When I write, I have a good idea where the story is going, but I’m basically a sit down and write kind of guy. I go some plotting, but only in my head.

    Thank you for having me here. I’ve really been looking forward to it.

    Posted by Andrew Grey | January 6, 2012, 5:48 am
  3. Thanks, Andrew! I realized the importance of goal setting when I first did NaNoWriMo. I make up my own “mini-Nano”s now.

    Telling myself I have to reach a target word count in a set number of days is a fabulous motivation. It’s surprising how much it helps me stay on track!

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | January 6, 2012, 8:08 am
  4. Morning Andrew!

    Thanks for posting with us today. =) I’m not a goal setter, but I need to be. It really works! Somehow I’ve set up in my brain I need to have this book written first draft by end of January, and in the past three weeks I’ve gotten more than half of it done.

    So setting goals for me really does work! Something I’ll have to do a lot more often!

    Thanks!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | January 6, 2012, 8:32 am
    • Carrie

      You’re so welcome. The old saying to you eat the elephant one bite at a time. By proper goal setting, you break the task into managable pieces and then you succeed!!

      best of luck with the draft.
      Andrew

      Posted by Andrew Grey | January 6, 2012, 3:16 pm
  5. Hi Andrew,

    I like the idea of setting goals you control. I start two stories at the same time. A little competition for my attention. One overtakes the other, but if I get stuck, I go back. It keeps me thinking and the stories moving.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | January 6, 2012, 8:46 am
    • Thanks Mary Jo

      In my writing group I found people who were setting long range goals that were out of their control, like finding an agent or selling a manuscript, and then they were disappointed when they failed. Control what you can and leave the rest the cosmos.

      Andrew

      Posted by Andrew Grey | January 6, 2012, 3:18 pm
  6. Thanks for the advise. It never really dawns on me that I need the goal to really push myself to get things done. I think a yearly one would be perfect. I can break it down by month and then still have the bigger picture in mind.

    Posted by Amy | January 6, 2012, 9:03 am
  7. Hi, Andrew. Welcome to RU!

    I’ve long been a goal setter, but as a writer, I’ve found just a plain word count goal doesn’t work for me because of my process. It takes me as long or longer to revise and edit a story than it does to write the draft. And sometimes that’s just a little harder to quantify. That being said, I do belong to a goals group (most of the RU faculty does) and I have a goals partner I check in with once a week.

    Thanks for your words of wisdom on your process!
    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | January 6, 2012, 9:05 am
  8. Oh, I love having a wordcount goal for the year. Though, I have to admit that mine isn’t as impressive, due to not having muh time to write. But 100000 in a year still sounds like a good idea.

    I really do believe every writer should have a wordcount goal (that’s the reason why I’m running the 2012 Word Count Goal Extravaganza over at my website) and it does provide with some extra motivation.

    Posted by Jane Rutherford | January 6, 2012, 9:32 am
  9. Andrew, great post! I’ve never thought about having a word count goal for the year. (You’re kinda rocking my world with that revelation.) I do it project by project (or contract by contract) but it’s not as well thought out as your method. And using a 25 day month for planning is brilliant.

    The key is knowing how many words you can comfortably write a day and sustain over time. For me, I know I can do 2000 words if I have to (did 3000 yesterday), but it ain’t pretty and I know I can’t keep up that pace for long.

    And I’ve totally done what you’ve done regarding staying up late to meet your word count solely because you don’t want to report failure to your group. It’s a great motivator to push yourself just a tiny bit farther than you would have on your own.

    Posted by Laurie London | January 6, 2012, 10:10 am
    • Thanks Laurie.

      You sound like a kindred spirit!! The thing I’ve done, is start small and increase over time. My goal at the start of 2011 was 2000 words a day. I’m now writing 3000 regularly, and 4000 most days. For me it simply built and you don’t know what you can do until you try.

      Andrew

      Posted by Andrew Grey | January 6, 2012, 3:24 pm
  10. Hi Andrew. I loved this post! I’ll be honest though, when I saw 600,000 words, I nearly had a coronary. LOL. But when you break it down, it does seem manageable.

    I usually give myself daily word counts when I’m on deadline, but I’ve never thought of setting an annual word count goal. I’m going to try it. Thanks so much.

    P.S. I used to drive through the Carlisle area going back and forth to school in Pittsburgh. Love Pennsylavania.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | January 6, 2012, 10:23 am
  11. I really enjoyed this post, Andrew. I never thought of setting an annual word count. Great idea, because the three times I set word counts for WIPs, I met them. This is really giving me something to think about when planning.

    Posted by Mercy | January 6, 2012, 10:53 am
  12. Hi Andrew!
    Great post. I never paid much attention to daily word count until I got published and started writing under deadline. If I were to set a goal of writing 600,000 words annually, I’d never achieve it. Too daunting. But when – like you suggest – I break it down to 2,000 words a day M-F or less if I write on weekends it is much more doable. Now I track my word count daily. It’s essential. And I typically do write for a couple of hours every single day to keep my daily word count goal as low as possible.

    Posted by Wendy S. Marcus | January 6, 2012, 12:03 pm
  13. Hi Andrew!

    600K words a year? I’m still trying to digest the fact that you wrote ten novels in 2011.

    I haven’t set specific word goals this year but having done Nano, I know I can write fast if needed. I’m a linear writer, but I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s easier to write the scene that’s in my head, especially if I’m stuck.

    The scene might take place in the middle or the end of the book, or in some cases, it’s not even part of the ms I’m working on. But I’ll get it down and in the long run, it saves me a little time later.

    Breaking the number of days down to 25 per month is uber-smart! I did that with Nano a few years ago knowing I wouldn’t get any words down over T-day weekend.

    Thanks so much for being with us!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | January 6, 2012, 5:44 pm
  14. Great advice on goal setting.

    You may also want to check out and download a free ebook on goal setting called “Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” at http://www.goalsontrack.com/index/goals_ebook

    Posted by Harry | January 6, 2012, 7:22 pm
  15. My first reaction was to be stunned at the idea of writing 600,000 words while doing any other kind of work at all. But then I thought about it and remembered that in 2010, I wrote something over 400,000 words without making any kind of focused effort. (Most of that was fanfiction, but it’s still proof that I can hit a fairly high word count like that.)

    I haven’t set a word count goal for 2012, but I have two short-term goals (finish a set of four short commissioned stories and complete revisions on a novel, both this month) and one long-term goal (write a trilogy that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while). I think once the two short-term goals are met, I’ll give myself a monthly word count goal and break it down by 20 or 25 days like you suggest. I know I can write a thousand words in an hour without a huge effort; the trick is to sit my butt down at the computer and DO it. :)

    Posted by Shae Connor | January 7, 2012, 11:28 am
  16. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks so much for this article. I’m a new author with my first two stories currently in production and being released within the next few months. Now more than ever, time management and goal setting is so important for me.

    It’s easy to be daunted when you think of the big picture, but when you get a figure in mind and you break it down, it makes one less thing to bite your nails over! It’s certainly something I plan to get in the habit of. And being part of a group is a great idea. Encouragement does wonders for motivation.

    Good luck with your 2012 goal! I’m always looking forward to your books!

    Charlie

    Posted by Charlie Cochet | January 7, 2012, 1:58 pm
  17. Andrew – Thank you so much for being my guest!

    The winners for your giveaway are:

    Mercy

    Wendy S. Marcus

    I’ll email you both to confirm contact info or you can get to me at robin@romanceuniversity.org

    Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | January 9, 2012, 8:12 am
  18. You describe pretty much my exact method of setting and meeting goals. About the only thing I’d add are regular reviews for progress – I guess your support group one covers that though. I don’t go for reporting to other people, but every month I review the progress I’ve made on the yearly goals, then plan how to continue progressing them by setting shorter monthly goals. Then I have a short weekly review to see where I am on those monthly goals and plan how I’ll continue working on them the next week. And I use my calendar and task management systems to organise all the work and let them remember all the mundane things of life so I don’t have to think about them. It’s working great for me.

    Posted by Becky Black | January 9, 2012, 3:53 pm

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  1. [...] Setting goals for your writing. This is so close to how I set my goals I had to check I didn’t write this. But it’s Andrew Grey, who’s produced an awesome amount of writing this way. Quote: “…keep your goals to things you can control, that way you’re more likely to succeed.” [...]

    Linky New Year | Becky Black - January 28, 2012

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