Writing as a Habit

Friday, July 19, 2019

July is turning out to be an amazing month for writer-me. First of all, I joined Holly Lisle’s Summer of Fiction Writing to keep me motivated as I draft what I thought was the first book in a historical mystery series. And then I joined a Cabin of indie writers for Camp NaNoWriMo because it popped up in a Facebook group I belong to.

I’ve missed the goals group I used to moderate for the Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime. I knew I would when I decided to leave the Guppies, but I’d outgrown that chapter. It was originally founded to support new mystery writers, and while published authors tend to stick around these days, they also tend not to participate in the discussion unless they have a new book to promote. Not all of them, of course, but too many in my opinion.



Belonging to a goals group (the Guppies wasn’t the first one I’d been in) gives me one thing I need in order to make consistant progress in my writing: accountability. It’s amazing how much your attitude changes when you have to tell someone else what you’ve accomplished each week. It’s even more amazing when you’ve promised them what you intend to accomplish the week before. No longer can you get away with such vague thoughts as “I should work on my novel this week.” No, there for all the world to see, you’ve put in writing “I will write 5,000 words on my novel this week.”

Gulp.


Now, neither SOFW nor CampNano is exactly a goals group, although you do set a writing goal for each one. In Holly Lisle’s group, people acknowledged that they needed more regular accountability than the massive three-month statement of what they intended to accomplish by August 31st. Holly has “weekly” milestone posts, which are one for each of your seven working day periods. So if you’re only working five days a week, your Day 35 check-in is going to happen almost a week after that of someone who’s writing seven days a week. So different threads have been set up for monthly and daily goals to suit how the various members want to report their progress. With Nano, there’s the ability to chart in how many words you’re up to each day.

Because of these two events, I’ve been forming a writing habit. I know I have to write a certain number of words each day to accomplish my goal of finishing the first draft of a book in a new mystery series by the end of August. I know how many days there are between the time I started and the time I should be done. Taking into account that I have scheduled days off (writing seven days a week leads to burn-out and exhaustion for me), simple math came up with I need to write 1100 words a day to accomplish my goal.

Since I know I’m going to have to put my success or failure out in public, I’m much more motivated to prioritize writing time. If for some reason I don’t get my words completed in the morning (like yesterday’s Red Sox day game), I make myself sit at my desk later in the day. Last night it was closing in on 8:00 PM before I put my butt in my chair, and I got over 1200 words done before I quit for the day.

And today I’m writing this blog before breakfast so that afterwards I’ll have my usual block of time to continue working on the novel.

Because goal setting works so well for me, if Holly doesn’t set up a Fall of Fiction Writing event, I think I’m going to start a Facebook group for writers to track writing goals. I hope at least a few of the writers I know want to join it.

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