How to make and keep writing goals

I want to show you how I make and keep my writing goals. Deadlines often mean the difference between finishing a project and giving up on a project for me: and I wouldn’t wish that fate upon any writer. With National Novel Writing Month approaching in November — I really wanted to bring my current dark fantasy novel up to 60,000 words. I started off by customizing a calendar to give me a clear set of goals and a sense of urgency.

writing-calendar

My goal is ~17,000 words in October, and I’ve tracked my progress daily. My initial progress is usually slow, but I do my best work under severe pressure.

So far, I’ve reached 3,753 words of my 17,000 word goal. That means I only have ~12,000 words left to do, and that is 100% manageable. For me, personally, the trick to writing is to keep a schedule. I’m not saying the words will always be there when you need them (see day 11!), because they most certainly will not be, but taking your goal small steps at a time works.  After having a full day off, I came back to write 2,000+ words in one day. You know who else writes 2,000+ words every day? Mr. Stephen King himself. So I count that as a great success.

The above calendar has been modified, but you can download the original for October here. Or perhaps you can download one for November and start thinking about your National Novel Writing Month plans…

I also have writer friends who can’t look at the numbers. “Never tell me the odds,” as a certain roguish hero once said. If he was a writer, he wouldn’t be able to use a calendar. In that case, I’d recommend turning to your writing friends and asking them to keep you on track. You’d be surprised how much a little encouragement makes all the difference when we’re knee-deep in an avalanche of words.

I know it sounds simple, “Print a calendar. Write on it. Then write.” Well, yes. I like that looming deadline, and I like tangible progress. I get instant gratification by showing my words–big or small–staring back at me. That doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.

Are there any of my readers out there who are struggling to make writing goals? Do you have a specific set of goals you set each month, or week, or day? Any tips or tactics to trick yourself in to being productive?
Share them in the comments!