Thursday, April 9, 2015

How I Became a Plotter: Goals

This is one off the most personally useful things I have learned to utilize as a plotter-in-training.
Part of the reason I became a plotter is because being a pantser made me crazy and not fun...or really even bearable.

I would obsess over writing enough each day, but "enough" as a panster meant writing until I was happy and satisfied with what I'd written. As many of you know, no one ever stops writing when they're are happy and satisfied. That's when we plow through on a rainbow sparkled writing high until we run out of steam and chug right up to "I'm a terrible writer" station.

It was usually at this point that I would need to stop. Either because I had to make dinner or do some other thing to maintain life OR because I hated my writing so much that I was too depressed to continue. If it was the latter, I would go days without writing and be unbearably grumpy in the interim.

So, now, every day I set a goal, usually around 1500 words. I write until I reach that goal and then I stop. When I am done, even if I end at a low point (boo!), I know I reached my goal (yay!). I put in the time and I produced something. I don't get depressed about it because my goal isn't mounds of gloriously written prose. It's 1,500 words. That's it.

Tips for daily word count goals:

1. Set your goal for whatever you have time for.
I can write about 1,500 in an hour on a good day and I almost always have at least an hour in my day so I know I can do it.

2. Allow yourself to NOT THINK ABOUT WRITING once you hit your goal.
I can actually be involved with my family rather than worrying about my story now.* Of course sometimes revelations will come to you and should be jotted down, but IT'S OKAY to clock in and clock out as a writer.  .

3. Really make yourself STOP once you reach your goal.
Or shortly after. Yes, it's awesome to outdo yourself, but when I come back to a story the next day with fresh eyes and renewed spirits I OFTEN find that the direction I was going in was good, but if I had gone much further in that particular direction it would have been boring and predictable. So I alter my course. I am not so absorbed and committed to a certain direction as I might have been the day before because I've had time to cool off.

Next Time: Mushy Middle
Previous Post: Crappy First Drafts

*Plotting in general has helped with this as well, because I'm not constantly trying to organize plot problems in my head, it's all already plotted out on paper

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