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February 19, 2018

Organization Tip - Writing Goals #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop

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At the start of each year, and sometimes each month, we create goals for our writing and publishing. A couple of my goals for the year are to set up a blog tour for Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication and submit the final book of the Disaster Crimes series to my publisher. These are some pretty big goals.

I often tell writers to take their big goals and break them down into smaller, more manageable goals.

For my blog tours, I figure out all the steps I need to do to make sure the tour goes off without a hitch, such as writing out guest posts, finding tour stops, and emailing the hosts. Part of figuring out those steps is knowing when I need to complete them, so I don’t have to rush last minute. For more information see this post: Organization Tip: Release Day.

For submitting the final book of my series, I first need to write it. Haha!

Writing and submitting a book to your publisher/editor in a year could be a daunting goal if you don’t break it down.

Here is a break-down of goals if you need to write and submit a book this year:

1.    Write a chapter a week. 

For a book with 25 chapters, writing a chapter a week would have you finishing it in about 6 months. If you're able to write more some weeks, you'll finish sooner! 

Thinking about writing one chapter a week is a lot less daunting than telling yourself you need to finish your book in X amount of time. Remember, managable goals. Goals that won't stress you out!

TIP: Plotting out the story helps, even a little plotting if you’re a pantser. The key is to always know what you need to write next. So plot out a chapter at a time. You can Do this before the start of each new week.

2.    With a weekly goal, you can devise a daily goal, such as to meet a specific word count. Chapter lengths vary. They can be long (20 pages) or short (5 pages). They can even be longer or shorter depending on the story.

No cheating by having a bunch of tiny chapters, though. Something needs to happen in that chapter. Check out Dan Brown. He's a pro at exciting, short chapters.

What your daily goal is will depend on you and any time constraints you have. I aim for 1,000 – 2,000 words a day. It changes, though, as it should. Some days I write more, some days I write less. Both are fantastic. Any words written should be celebrated.

3.    The above goals will help you write a book, but if your goal is to submit it, you need to do more, such as revising. Again, this will depend on your story and when you feel your story is ready. I typically revise for a couple of months. Some writers take longer. Try to anticipate how long you'll need to revise it before beta readers.

4.    Using beta readers or critique partners should also be a stepping-stone to your goal. Allow them a month to give you their notes.

5.    Are you self-publishing? Then your next goal will be to hire a freelance editor.

6.    If you're aiming to traditionally publish, once you implement necessary changes based on what your critique partners and/or editor said, create the query letter and synopsis.


7.    With your manuscript, query, and synopsis ready, your next step is to find agents/publishers. I like to use Writer’s Market, Manuscript Wish List, and Writer’s Digest.

8.    Now, submit away! Follow all guidelines and cross your fingers.

Whatever your goal is, no matter how big, chip away at it until it’s a bunch of tiny goals.

What can you do each month to reach that goal?

What can you do weekly?


And what can you do daily?


74 comments:

Pat Hatt said...

Great way to look at it indeed. Big goals are grand, but the break down can surely help you get there faster.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I need to get better at recognizing and celebrating reaching those smaller goals. I tend to blow right through them, and they deserve to be acknowledged! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's all in setting smaller goals so the bigger goals don't oeverwhelm.

Please no tiny chapters! They frustrate me. (Especially when formatting.)

Chrys Fey said...

Dan Brown tends to have short chapters but things happen in them. How short is too short for you, formatting wise?

Chrys Fey said...

I tend to do the samething, but I’ve started to keep track of my word counts for each day, so that helps a lot. Now I can see what I’ve accomplished.

Chrys Fey said...

The break down is great to help you manage your goals and meet them faster.

Yolanda Renée said...

Working on a new story now. Letting it take me where it will. I've set my goals and I'm working toward them, sometimes too slowly for comfort, but always forward!

Good luck you with yours!

Chrys Fey said...

Always forward is what counts, whether slow or fast.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - interesting to read ... the chapter format makes sense ... as too the smaller 'packets' of work ... but I'll be interested to read your answer to Diane's comment - cheers Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

Do you mean her comment “please no tiny chapters”? I did reply back to that. In my post, I actually say “no cheating by having a bunch of tiny chapters, though.” So I think she was agreeing with me. But I also said in the post that all stories are different. Some require long chapters and some short, but those short chapters need to be useful...something needs to happen.

Liz A. said...

Yup, that's the way. Break it off into manageable chunks.

Toi Thomas said...

These are not only good tips for goal setting but are great for developing a writing plan/schedule.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I’m glad you agree. :)

Botanist said...

My goals vary depending on where I am in the process. I go for word count pure and simple while I'm writing the first draft. That avoids the long/short chapter issue and still gets you a full novel in a reasonable time. It also sidesteps the problem that this time around I didn't even have chapters identified until the very last round of edits!

Chrys Fey said...

All writers are different. My suggestion to aim for a chapter a week is a narrowed down goal that helps with focus and even plotting. I actually don’t pay attention to how long or short my chapters are. I write them until they are done, having chapter outlines helps with this.

Lidy said...

Great tips about how to break down your writing goals and turn them to achievable ones. Right now I'm doing the 85K90 word challenge so my writing goals is a 944 words daily word count, 4 stories in 3-4 months and 1-2 chapters a week.

Birgit said...

Hello and hope you New Year has been good to you. I have had a very difficult time so the goal to write outlined here can be used for any goal and it is very wise. I hope to get to something soon

emaginette said...

As always, your advice is right on. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Tara said...

Yes--great advice. Breaking my goals down almost always helps me accomplish them.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Chrys .. I probably didn't pick up the nuances or tie things together. So that answers my question ... cheers Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

No problem! :)

Unknown said...

Good advice, Chrys. Much of what you suggest applies to just about all goals. 1,000 words a day is a good standard. Hard to do sometimes.

Chrys Fey said...

Sounds like you’ve got it down!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Birgit! Yes, this break down can be used for any goal. Whatever we want to achieve, breaking the big steps down is the way to get there.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Anna!

Chrys Fey said...

That’s great! I break down my goals because otherwise, they seem too huge and daunting.

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, it is hard to write a specific word count every day. Some days result in more or less. Both are great. I haven’t written in awhile (as in weeks (because of other responsibilities). During those times, when I’m not able to write, I don’t worry about writing or not writing. It’s when I have the time to write when word count goals come in to play.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

For my WIP I wrote a rough draft in long hand. Now, I'm typing each chapter, my goal, one chapter a day. I'm a little behind because I'm adding some things. This book needs research and what I've found goes in the chapters. Hope to finish this copy by April. Then back for more. Your advice helps.

Raimey Gallant said...

Such a great list. I'm normally a hard-core plotter, but with my current WIP, pre-plotting en masse wasn't working, and so now I'm doing as you suggest. I always know what I'm writing next, and I try to plan to the next plot point at the very least.

Erika Beebe said...

Excellent post Chrys. You make the process less daunting and very doable. I do like to plot, and what I've done is set an end date for myself. Weekly goals are a bit more difficult with my schedule, but I make loose ones and shoot for them and then if I don't make them I try to catch up the next weekend. I wish you much luck :)

Unknown said...

Good advice! My issue is that I tend to be a multi-tasker: often, I'm working on two projects at the same time (writing one, revising another). I have to sort myself out sometimes and decide which one I'm going to do on what days, and figure out a goal for myself when I want to have each one finished. Maybe one of these days I'll just focus on one thing at a time!

Chrys Fey said...

I write parts of my book long hand and enjoy trying those pages because then I get to add more details as I go. It’s almost like revising for me.

Chrys Fey said...

I’ve been finding that my projects vary. Some of them are completely plotted out. Others I only plot out a few chapters at a time because I’m just rolling with it.

Chrys Fey said...

End dates for goals are a great idea. I have those, too. There are months that I plan to finish certain goals by.

Chrys Fey said...

Multi-talkers would need extra time to achieve their goals and balance. I’m usually a multi-tasker. I work in revisions for one book while writing another, but I do that by putting writing on pause for the time being.

S.E. White Books said...

Wow this is comprehensive! So many good things to take my time looking over and digesting. I especially appreciate the organization tips for release day, since I'll be staring my first release day in the face very soon and, honestly, it's petrifying! Thanks for this great post!

E.M.A.Timar said...

Clear and actionable advice as always, Chrys. Thanks so much for this breakdown of your process. I follow a similar but find that weekly goals work better for me than daily ones. I tend to obsess and spend too much time on planning my time if I break it down to daily goals.
Also, I look forward to checking out your query and synopsis writing posts. I am in editing now and hopefully will be moving forward with those soon.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, S.E.! I'm glad you found this useful. I hope my previous post about release days helps you. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're very welcome, E.M.A.! Weekly goals are my go-to, but I'm a to-do list queen so I also have daily goals. lol I hope my posts about query letters and synopses helps you!

Unknown said...

This is great advice. I tend to overplan my weeks and then give up in frustration. I like that you focus on obtainable goals.

Chrys Fey said...

That's the thing. So many of us stack on too many goals, as well as big goals. We need to narrow it down more for our own sanity. ;)

Unknown said...

Love your point 4 about beta readers. They're important to the process and giving them lots of time shows respect for the effort they are making.

Chrys Fey said...

Of course! Beta readers are very important. I didn't use one for the last book I published and people are saying it's their favorite (odd how that worked), but I usually go to beta readers for another set of eyes.

Unknown said...

Well said. I'm a big believer in segmentation. I think many falter because they set out with a goal in mind, but don't recognize that on a day by day basis they're not meeting the necessary sub-goals.

Ironically I think I have a bad habit of underestimating the difficulty of a goal. I look out at the upcoming year and think "This is going to be great. I'm going to post twice a week, and write another short story every month," but the reality is I'm underestimating how much time will be involved, and how much time I have available in a week to spend on writing.

I think another important aspect is prioritizing. Really deciding "If only one thing gets done this week (for writing), what is it?"

Thank you for sharing.

Chrys Fey said...

Sub-goals is a great way to put it. I don't know why I didn't think of that. :)

Underestimating availability and the fact that things can get in the way is why so many people fail to meet their goals. Even the goal of writing a new short story every month might be too big if you're not used to doing that. Starting a short story one month and ending it the next month could help.

Prioritizing is key. Thanks for mentioning that. I prioritize my weekly goals, so I know what needs to get done sooner in the week or if something can be put off to the next week.

Thanks for commenting!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

As usual, great advice here, Chrys. I'm blessed. I have a few beta readers and a critique partner waiting for me to move forward and finish a version of my memoir about attending college with 5 kids in tow.

Thanks for all you do to assist your fellow writer. Enjoy your week.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you have beta readers and critique partners waiting to read your memoir. I truly wish the best regarding your story. I can't wait for the time when I get to read it.

Thank you!

Unknown said...

Great post! Breaking goals into smaller chunks is something I've only really learned in recent years. But thinking about the next stage in the writing process is much more manageable and less anxiety-inducing than trying to look at the bigger picture all the time. Thanks for sharing!

Nas said...

Awesome post! I've been looking at plots, themes, characterisations etc this week on a manuscript I'm editing!

Vanessa Scott said...

Great tips!! Thanks for sharing!

JJ Burry said...

Excellent post! I agree that setting smaller goals makes the big goal more manageable. I'm working on setting smaller goals now, but it's difficult trying to figure out how long I'll need for everything.

Chrys Fey said...

That’s when, as long as you don’t have a deadline from a publisher, that you allow yourself as long as it takes. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Vanessa!

Chrys Fey said...

That’s great!

Chrys Fey said...

Exactly. And we should do whatever we need to do to make things less anxiety-inducing for ourselves. It’s worth it. Our sanity and health is worth it. :)

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Great tips. Thanks for sharing :-) Breaking goals down into manageable sizes really do help -- and it reduces the chances of a meltdown!

Anonymous said...

You, my friend, are a goldmine of treasured information. I also love how you present your wisdom. It's so positive and up lifting. It makes me feel like I can achieve anything. Thank you for sharing these gems!

Have a beachy week!
Elsie

JoanCurtis said...

Great advice, but I have to say, I prefer the daily word count goal. For me, my chapter lengths vary too much. And, I wouldn't want to force an end to a chapter because I'm getting tired on a particular day. Also, I read that EL Doctorow said he always stopped before he was actually finished with a scene (or chapter). That way he had a jumping off place for the next day's writing. I liked that idea. Thanks for your great post.

Chrys Fey said...

Well, the goal of a chapter a week is broken down to daily goals and word counts. :) And getting close to that goal at the end of the day or week is just as good as meeting it. We have to remember to allow ourselves leeway with our goals. It’s okay if we don’t quite meet them. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Absolutely. Breaking down goals is a strategy to help us. :) Thanks, Ronel!

Chrys Fey said...

You are too kind, Elsie! I do what I can and what I had needed when I first started. :)

sage said...

Good ideas, but I have always struggled to break down goals like that (maybe I need a coach...). But I do tend to get things done and on time, even if just under the wire.

Iola said...

I like the idea of writing a chapter a week. That somehow sounds more doable that X words a day.

Let me know if you do host a blog tour for Write With Fey. I post irregular reviews on my editing website, and I'd be happy to host you.

Charity Rau said...

Great Tips! Thanks for sharing!

Chrys Fey said...

You’re welcome!

Chrys Fey said...

It sounds more manageable to me, too, because you have 5-7 days to get there.

Thanks for the invitation, Iola! I am planning a little tour and release day announcements, so I’ll let you know. :)

Chrys Fey said...

A little meditation on your specific goals could shine some light on how they can be broken down into bite-sized chunks, even if you don’t plan them for a specific amount of time ( monthly, weekly, daily). A breakdown is a good to-do list to complete from beginning to end to reach a goal.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Chrys. Helpful as always. I'm going to print it out for motivation!

Lux G. said...

Great tips as always, girl. Thank you.

Chrys Fey said...

That's great, Denise. I hope it comes in handy. :)

Chrys Fey said...

And thank you, Lux!

Lisa Thomson said...

Thanks Chrys, for this great list to inspire. I will definitely be taking your pointers as I have to finish a few 'shitty first drafts' of two WIPs.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Lisa! I hope it helps with your shitty first drafts. lol I'm working on a draft that I didn't finish from years ago, and it's kicking my butt.