Whether you saw Pretty Woman or not, it's true. You have to have a goal.
Oh, phooey! you say. I don't need no stinkin' goal. I'm just gonna fly by the seat of my pants.
And that's fine. You can fly by your seat, go with the flow, glide on the wind, ride the surf, [enter cliche here]. Some people don't do well with goals, especially folks who aren't disciplined (and no, I'm not knocking those who aren't disciplined...just saying that goals without discipline is bad mojo. So if you're not disciplined, you're wise not to set goals.).
Goals are like a road map. You can't get to your destination until you know what your destination is. Once you know that, all that's left is finding the right roads to get you there.
But here's what goals do for you when you add in a dose of discipline:
Back in February, I barely wrote 50,000 words. In March, I barely cracked 60,000. I thought I was doing well, but man, was it a struggle. But I didn't have a goal, either. For April, I tried something new. I set a goal of 70,000 words. There, I had my monthly mark. But having a monthly goal isn't enough. It's the destination, not the map to get there. To reach your goals you need both. And let's face it, 70,000 words sounds pretty daunting. So, I divided that by 30, the number of days in the month, and got 2,333. Ta-da! I had my daily goal (and my road map). And 2,333 sounds a lot more doable than 70,000, doesn't it?
Then I set out every day to hit my goal, no matter what it took. There were nights I didn't crawl into bed until after 11:00, because I HAD to get to my goal, come hell or high water. That number (2,333) meant something. And each day I hit it, the more important it became to continue hitting it. And an interesting thing happened. Not only did I write 2,333 words in a day. I found that I was writing over 3,000. Every day. 70,000 quickly became 80,000, and with seven days left in the month, I have already hit my original goal and need less than 8,000 words to reach my secondary goal. By April 30, I could actually hit 90,000 words, if I really apply myself. How cool is that?
Oh, and did I mention I have a job? At least until the end of May. So, having a job can't be used an excuse. Think of it as a reason and you'll go further.
At any rate, it's having that goal that has upped my writing volume. It's like I'm competing with myself to see by just how much I can surpass my quota. And for me, that drives me.
Goals + discipline + accountability make you work harder to avoid failure.
Sure, I had to get creative, and—yes—disciplined to keep slam-dunking my daily numbers, but what's the alternative? Watching my dream of being an author fade away? I'm not about to let that happen. Having the goal and committing to it made me think outside the box so I could create an even better road map to reach my destination.
So, I get up around 4:00 in the morning now just so I can write when I'm at my creative peak, which is in the morning. By the time 2:00 in the afternoon rolls around, my brain goes from creative to introspective or rational, and I hit a lull. For me, afternoons and evening are not my optimal writing time. So, I do what I have to to make sure I'm writing when I'm most productive. Sure, I'm missing some TV, and sure it sucks going to bed so early, but you know what? Those TV shows will still be there later, and I'll have plenty of time to go to bed whenever I like when I've got twenty-five or more books published. If losing a couple of hours a sleep every night is what it takes to get there, then okay. I'll lose some sleep.
To hit your goals, you've gotta work with what you're given, and sometimes that means doing what you think is impossible, like getting up at 4:00AM.
That's 83,333 words per month (okay, that's not so bad).
2,740 words per day (shoot, that's less than what I'm doing now. That's a snap).
See how that works? :) Just gotta eat that 1M-word elephant one bite at a time.
I've got this. Do you?
Happy reading and writing.