Let me make the case to you for setting micro goals. Writing a book is a complicated process. Some days, 100 words are more than doable. Other days, it feels a gargantuan task. When I have days like the latter, what helps is telling myself I only have to write one sentence. It’s almost impossible not to talk myself into doing just that much. Usually, once I have that one sentence down, it’s enough to motivate me to keep going with the work.
Take this blog post, for example. I told myself I was only going to write a topic sentence. But a minute or so has gone by now, and I am still writing the post. I can’t keep this little sprint going for much longer, but it’s given me a solid start. That’s the power of micro goals.
When I’m working on a draft of a novel, I set a word count goal for 2,000 words per day. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember, maybe since college. But on days when writing feels impossible, like the last thing I would ever want to do, I lower my expectations.
On days when I’m struggling, I focus on a much lower word count target, say, 500 words, or 100. Once, I even set a target for like, 50 words (a Very Bad Day). Still, it counted as writing, because I was getting words down. Even if my word count goal was lower than I wanted, I still got something done. That is the power of micro goals.
So, the next time you’re struggling, lower the bar. Decrease the word count goal. This is not only good for morale, but also productivity. You’ll be surprised how much progress you’ll make.
As I write this, I am dictating it. I’m in the middle of a pretty bad arthritis flare-up, I have it in my hands, so it makes writing difficult. I wanted to get this blog post done, however, so I set a goal to just write the next sentence. Here we are now, at the conclusion of this post. It’s going to be a short one, but I hope it helps someone as much as it’s helped me to figure this out.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
I’ve mentioned before that myWriteClub is one of my favorite writing resources. I first heard of it over on Ava Jae’s blog, where she wrote a post about it. Since then, I’ve used mWriteClub to track my progress and keep myself motivated to finish my projects (follow me!).
If you’re not using myWriteClub, you really should be. It has a commenting feature where people can provide encouragement and spur you onward, a nifty colored bar that fills up as you write, and an amazing new feature I never would have known about without Ava Jae–myWriteClub supports personal and global word sprints!
For those of you unfamiliar with the term word sprints, I’m talking about writing in short bursts, setting a timer for say, fifteen minutes, and writing as much as you can without stopping until the timer goes off. Word sprints are an excellent way to get through a first draft, and I never would have been able to finish writing Blood and Water without them. Before MyWriteClub, I used either a physical timer (which was okay) or Write or Die (which wasn’t great, as I’ve since learned I don’t do well with negative stiumli). For some reason, timed writing leads to serious productivity for me, so myWriteClub’s word sprint feature is an absolute godsend.
Just this past week, I used myWriteClub’s global sprinting feature to write 2K words in less than an hour each day. How amazing is that?? And the cool thing about myWriteClub (well, one of them) is that the program gives you a star for each 100 words you reach. Positive reinforcement! I love it.
It’s free to sign up for myWriteClub, and it’s only in the beta stage, but it looks promising! If you give it a try, let me know what you think! And feel free to add me. 🙂
How do you feel about writing sprints?
Are you a fan of writing sprints? Find out how @brianawrites is using them and myWriteClub to write more! (Click to tweet)