200,000: When will you get there?

Yesterday at Wisconsin Dells I got to 200,000: Miles, that is, not words.

When we bought the car in 1995, I had no idea we would still own it now, much less if or when we would reach this milestone. Yesterday I was so excited that I took an exit when the odometer was getting close, so that I could drive around slowly and pull to the side of the road for the photo.

When do you plan to finish your novel? Will you set a deadline? Or will you work on it steadily with daily or weekly writing goals until the work is complete? Which strategy works better for you?

Last year, I used the deadline for the Random House first middle-grade novel contest as a goal, and it worked very well as a way to keep me on track and focused. If you write young adult fiction, you want to consider using Random House’s First Young Adult Novel Contest deadline as a goal this year (manuscripts must be postmarked after October 1, 2010, but no later than December 31, 2010). A friend of mine is using a contest deadline this year to finish her romance novel, as well.

For my current work, I am not going to set a deadline, at least not now, because I don’t have a good handle yet on how long the finished novel will be. Instead, I’ll stick with continual work and daily writing as my goal.

More Writing Goal Resources

Ami Mattison, in a post on her wonderful blog poetryNprogress (not just for poets), offers advice on “Developing a Writing Routine: How To Write Every Day,” including this:

“So, how do you stay motivated and maintain your writing routine? One way I stay motivated is to share my completed poems or more developed drafts via email to friends or my personal blogs. By doing this, I tend to get positive and constructive feedback from the supportive people in my life. Also, sharing your work with your greatest fan, such as your mother or your best friend, can be a great way to get instant gratification. I share my work with my partner who, of course, thinks everything I write is utterly brilliant.”

Finding a way to share your writing with someone you trust, whether that means sharing portions of the work itself or just talking about what you are doing, is a way to keep the work present and tangible. Since I began meeting monthly with a writing buddy, my direction is clearer, my writing is stronger, and my written output is greater, even if all we do is share our goals and be each other’s cheerleader. And, of course, this blog is also my way of keeping myself accountable.

For yet more inspiration, take a look at the the blog Write It Sideways, especially the posts  “A 6 Month Weigh-In of Your Annual Writing Goals,” self-reflection from another author whose goal is to finish her novel this year, and “The #1 Reason You’ll Never Finish Writing Your Novel” (thanks, Ami, for the link).

And, yes, I did write my page last night! In doing so, I got so excited about the story that I woke up at 3:30 a.m. as the plot lines work themselves out in my mind. I don’t mind the lost sleep. :)


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