Tracking your Progress

Since many of my writer friends are NaNo-ers, or at least have a similar mindset, I have a question to put to you.

When you’re trying to decide how much to try to write in a month, do you think of it first on a “per day” basis, or a “for the month” basis?  The two are related, but not equivalent.

For instance, the NaNo goal is 50k words over the month; it is not 1,667 words per day.  Why?  If I write 10,000 words a day for the first five days, I have won NaNo.  I can write zero words for the rest of the month.  A goal of “1,667 words per day” for the month would mean that, no matter how much I have written previously, I still need to get those words in for that day.

I really wanted to fill in an “at least” in talking about how much I wanted to write for the day, though it would be just as accurate to do so for the month-long goal.

I think which I tend to think in depends on what month it is.  During NaNo, I plan it out day by day (or week by week, something I experimented with last year).  For Camps, and most months, my goal is, say “Write 60k words”.  I could, if I were crazy, wait until the last few days and do it all then and still feel just as accomplished.  During NaNo, the pressure (from myself) to hit my daily story goals is there.

Also, I know I was talking about word count here, mostly because that’s what I use when estimating how far into a book I am and such.  If you use another metric (scenes or chapters or what have you), feel free to substitute that in the above question.  I care more about how you think of your goals than what you measure them with.

So!  Which do you tend to do more?  Fine grained, or overall for the month?

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4 Responses to Tracking your Progress

  1. quixotic_hope says:

    For NaNo, I like to have both. That was especially true the last two years since I’ve joined the Overachievers group. I set an overall goal for the month and then a minimum goal for the day to make sure that I still wrote every day. This is especially important to make sure that I don’t slack off once I’m ahead, as I have been known to do that in the past – get ahead, then take a day or two off, and then suddenly I’m behind.

    For non-NaNo goals, I usually just set a monthly goal. I’m starting to think that maybe I shouldn’t do that – for exactly the reasons listed above. I take a few days off, get behind, and then just want to stop writing. Not a good thing.

  2. L.M. Murphy says:

    First off, let me say typing this with a cat purring in my lap is difficult. Said cat isn’t even mine. But anyway.

    During NaNo, I’ve always aimed for the standard 50K, and until last year generally started out strong, fell behind in week two, then made a mad 15K+ dash to the end in the last day or two. Last year I hit 50K on the 12th and kept going, hitting 100K by the end. I don’t know what I’m doing this year. 😛 For Camp, my goal is always just to finish a project. I have yet to accomplish that.

    In the off season, I write more on weekends than weekdays. On a weeknight, I’m pleased if I get an entire scene (or a prompt response) written. On weekends I write madly, or try to. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, which makes me more determined to write the next day.

    …. Okay, I’m done. You really shouldn’t ask writers about their goals/progress without expecting a good ramble. 😛

  3. racquelin says:

    Definitely words by month. I don’t know scenes, chapters, or even length until I’m a good ways in and have found the rhythm. Words by month is really the only metric that works for me (days and weeks are too variable; more than a month is too long to sustain evenly).

  4. tia says:

    As of late, I’ve picked my monthly goals based on a daily total (e.g., 90k goal for 30 days of 3k) but during a Nano I don’t feel compelled to make that daily goal as long as I make the monthly goal. I am, however, in the middle of a “750 words every day for a year” goal.

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