Goal-Setting and Beating Records (An Update of Sorts)

As many of you know, NaNoWriMo has recently finished. I’m still a bit abuzz from the experience. This year was my last NaNoWriMo in high school — or, in other words, the last NaNoWriMo before college (and being super busy!). As such, I decided to set some high goals for myself; I wanted to beat all my old records and try and surpass my highest goals if I could.

Did I manage to do that? Well, let’s see:

In July of 2014, I wrote my personal best of 112,714 words. This year, I surpassed that with 142,743 words. And my new daily record is 25,464 words in ten hours (whew, that was some day!).

I think I can happily say that I did pretty well. I’m actually really proud of myself — and why shouldn’t I be? As writers, our chosen career can sometimes be a bit lonely and not always as productive as we’d like it to be. We should learn to celebrate the little things, and especially the big things.

So that brings me to the topic of this time’s post: setting goals and beating records. I possess a high WPM and an ability to easily come up with stories in my mind, without a need to go back and edit — this allows me to write quickly and efficiently. However, I know plenty of people who have a harder time with writing words down quickly. Because of my high typing speed, I can set higher goals for myself — but that hardly means I’m a better writer. Indeed, it may mean I’m just churning out crap faster, haha.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that depending on what type of writer you are, you need to adjust your goals based on that. If you’re a slower writer, who thinks more about the story and the characters as you write, rather than just speeding through the story, try a slow but steady goal — an hour a day or something.

For daily quotas, there are several different ways to look at it. They can generally be broken into three categories: time, pages, and words. Do you measure the time you spend writing by hours (or minutes, even), the number of pages you write, or how many words you can get down? I usually go by words, but sometimes that can be intimidating for people.

If you’re editing or even planning a story, it may be easier to go by time since you can’t measure that with a specific page or word count. Some people also think time is better since they are not constrained to meet a certain word count — since some scenes may be slower or faster, harder or easier to write, they can simply just spend the hour (or however long) working on it, rather than trying to get five hundred words into that scene.

For those who are busy, with jobs or school, you could write in time intervals. Steal fifteen minutes here and there. This is not my preferred way of writing, because I usually like to get into the “zone” and write for hours, rather than jumping in and out and writing for little bits at a time. However, I am blessed with extended blocks of time to be able to do that (at least currently . . .). If you don’t have several hours to yourself, you might be one of those people who need to take advantage of every spare minute to yourself. Carry around a notebook. Think about your characters in your free time. Watch the people around you, and search for ideas. As writers, we should take grasp of every opportunity in front of us.

Goal-setting is a hard thing to do. How can I find a proper goal for myself that I’ll be able to consistently meet, that won’t drag me down, won’t bore me, but keep me inspired and get me working steadily on my project? Well, I can’t answer that. You have to figure that out for yourself. It might take some fiddling, some changing up your routine, but eventually I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you.

Goals can help you focus and if you tell people about them, they can help keep you accountable. As with NaNoWriMo, having a goal can stretch your abilities, shooting you higher than you ever thought you could reach. The encouragement you get from the people you share your dreams with can also be very beneficial.

Mostly, I’ve been talking about daily goals. But what about other goals, vaguer things like deadlines to finish a draft, editing a story, or sending out query letters? For these, it might be good to have those daily goals to push you to those — you can adjust your daily goals according to your deadline, so you’ll reach it in time. As encouragement, think about giving yourself rewards each time you manage to be on schedule (if you have three months until your deadline, you can give yourself a reward every month).

As the new year approaches, are there any goals you’re setting for yourself? What do you hope to accomplish in the next few months? What are you proud to have accomplished this year? Beat any records lately?

Thanks for reading! For those of you who participated in NaNoWriMo, great job! It was an awesome year. As always, keep on writing!

~ J. Dominique


August Update — New Plans!

This post is just going to be an update on what I’ve been up to this summer (not much), and what I’m planning to do these following months. I hope that posting this online will help keep me accountable!

These next few months are very important for me, both as a student and a writer. I am currently sixteen years old and entering my last year of high school — approximately this time next year I’ll be in college. Scary, huh? I’m a little excited, a little apprehensive.

Either way, though, I’m sure college is going to be harder on me than high school currently is. In fact, I’d say I have it pretty easy right now. I don’t have a lot of extracurricular activities and my school load is light. I have plenty of time right now to write. So to say I need to be getting quite a bit done during this last year is an understatement. Of course, I need to make time for writing in college as well, but I also want to make the most of the time I have now.

Lately, I haven’t been writing much. Not because of lack of inspiration — I’ve had plenty, and I’ve wanted to write. The problem is that the stage I’m in right now is editing. And while I don’t hate editing . . . I don’t exactly like it. It’s a bit tedious to me. Of course, I understand that it’s a necessary part of the writing process.

Anyway, the other night I was rereading through my story to get a better handle on it so I could reorganize my plot when I realized something: I drafted this story a year and a half ago. My writing ability has gotten a lot better since then. My story, also, has developed a lot since then. Simply put, it would be much easier for me to completely rewrite/redraft the whole series than to try and edit what I have. I’m not quite sure why this didn’t occur to me earlier.

And you know what? I’m really excited about this. I know that I’m going to have to edit later on, and I’ll get to that then, but soon I’ll be able to enjoy actually writing, and that makes me super happy.

So what I’m going to do now is review what I currently have, map out a new plotline to use, further develop my characters and world, and hopefully by the time NaNoWriMo comes around this November, I’ll be prepared to start drafting anew my series. It’s doable, definitely. This week, I’ve gotten more work done that I have all summer (basically, all I got done this summer was watching anime and reading books, but hey, I don’t usually get summers off, okay? — yeah, yeah, I know, no excuse).

How are you and all your writing endeavors going? Has there ever been a point when you’ve realized that you need to stop pushing yourself so hard and start from scratch again (and in a different situation, perhaps)? It can be tough sometimes, or sometimes it can be relieving. As writers, we have to make some tough decisions.

There ends my update — I hope you all are doing well! Keep on writing and having fun with it!

~ J. Dominique

Darkness Loves Us (A Poem)

Darkness Loves Us
by J. Dominique

Some speculate the world will end so soon,
Some say the world will end when He decides,
But no one thinks it will end quite like this:
A person with whom I can laugh, confide,
A person with whom I will love and die.

My story starts with singing, swooning songs,
I’d been pulled to the preening party place,
My friend fell for the first person she saw,
I walked around, invisible my face,
He saw me like no else ever did.

For me, that’s when the world started to end,
I thought he would destroy me with his smile,
His gentle voice, his soothing touch all helped
To aid in my destruction all the while,
I couldn’t help my thoughts gone wild for him.

It seemed like there was nothing to perfect,
Together we did any-, everything,
Light filled my days, constant rays shined and glowed,
I was the queen, and oh, he was my king,
That should’ve been the end of my story.

But darkness overcame to beat and kill,
We were so scared, we couldn’t run from it,
It overwhelmed, swallowed us whole — our hope
Solved puzzles pieces — there wasn’t a fit,
We hid, and waited for the light to come.

I’d imagined the end to be different,
Zombies and fire and ice or stars to rain,
This was too horrible to comprehend,
Had fate close for us, no more to ordain?
This blackness won’t end: Darkness reigns supreme.

— J. Dominique

April Update

Hey, everybody! How are you all doing? I’m here to tell you that I’m doing quite fabulous. Here are just a few things I’ve been up to in the last few months:

1. I’ve been editing my “Eternal” series. Haven’t made a ton of progress on that, unfortunately, but I still have quite a while before I have to get it done.

2. I submitted my first chapter of my first book in the “Eternal” series to a few critiquers. I got a mix of reviews, but mostly positive, which is really encouraging!

3. I’m participating in this April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and I keep changing my word count goal. First, I was at 20K, then 15K, then 30K, then 50K, and now 60K. I am crazy. But my cabin mates are great and supportive and . . . yes, they’re active!

4. In the middle of Camp NaNoWriMo, I started a new project (because I was so bored with editing . . .). I’m about 40,000 words into that, and I hope to reach at least 55,000 by the end of the week.

5. In my poetry class, I’m learning a lot about cool stuff like alliteration, consonance, meter, hyperbole, things I’ve never thought about before! They’re so cool, and I hope to use them tons in the future (without overdoing it, of course).

6. I’ve been writing so much lately. It’s been great, because before I was just editing which didn’t have a ton of writing involved. It feels good to stretch my muscles again.

And that’s about what all has happened to me that involves writing! How are your writing endeavors going? I would love to hear about them.

~ J. Dominique