Long-Term and Short-Term

Before I get into anything today, I’d like to say a HUUUUUUGE congrats to the fine folk that are up for a Hugo Award this year.

You can find the entire list of nominees here. You should go do yourself a favor and pick yourself up a heaping helping of awesome from that list of stories.

This is not going to be one of those posts that’s going to end with “Just Kidding!” or “April Fools!” I indulged myself a bit in that regard at the Million Words blog where I’m also posting today. If you’re interested in a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, you can pop on over there for a bit.  I’ll wait.


So today I’m going to start off the blog with something you don’t often hear when a writer talks about word count:

I wrote 300 words and some change today. And I’m ok with that.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think that we hear enough about days when the words don’t come as easily as we’d like. Just about every day we’ll see posts about how someone’s A-Game day resulted in 7200 words, or 10,000 words. Most of the time these folks are full time writers, and again, this is an awesomely productive day for anyone.

There are some days where I see that and really wonder who the hell I’m trying to kid by calling myself an author. 300 words? In an hour? I’m going to be uncharacteristic and do a little bit of math here. It would take me 33 hours to reach 10,000 words at that pace.

Depressing, right? I suspect that there are some of you out there that sometimes feel the same way.

One thing I want you to take away from this post is to not to compare your less-than-perfect productivity with someone else’s Grand-Slam accomplishment. Your situation isn’t the same as theirs, and their situation isn’t the same as yours. We’re talking apples and oranges here.

Another thing that I want you to take away from this post is that progress is progress – and progress is good. It doesn’t matter how far along you got. What matters is that you’re farther along now than where you were when you started. And I’m not talking about positive word count. Sometimes progress means less word count. Editing will most often get you that result – which is why I make the shift from word count to page count when I’m in editing mode.

Progress is both a long-term and a short-term game. Let me tell you about that three hundred word count.

I’m not as far along with the book I’m working on as I’d like. So I decided to see if I could change that. I took at look at the remainder of the year and the goal I had as of January 1 that I wanted to have a book written by the end of the year – A long term goal.

Now I’m shooting for 100,000 words (a mere 10 days at 10,000 words a day…see how unrealistic that kind of standard is for someone with a day job, a family, outside interests, a need to eat, sleep, live…). I can’t do this all at once, so  I set a shorter-term goal to have half of that – 50,000 words – by July 1.

As of today, that’s three months from now. I took a look at those three months and I broke it down into three individual months. How many words would it take, per month, to reach that 50,000 words – a shorter term goal.

I won’t replicate the uncharacteristic math here, but I took that number – The number of words I’d need per month – and I broke it down farther to find how many words a week I would need to hit that word count goal for the month.

Again, I won’t replicate the math, but once I had that number, I broke it down even farther to find out how many words per day, I would need to get down in order to make that weekly goal.

300 words and some change was beyond that number.

So, not only am I on track to reach my 50,000 words by July 1 goal, I’m ahead of schedule.

And that’s an awesome feeling.

Now the point here isn’t to toot my own horn (about 300 words, no less). The point is to remind you that setting long term goals is a good thing. It’s essential to getting what you want out of life. You need those long term goals.

But having them isn’t enough. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a number of long term goals out in front of you, and if you’re just looking at the long-term part of it, you can get overwhelmed trying to instantly jump from where you are now to where you want to go.

How do you write a book? One word at a time.

So you set your long term goal. Your very next step should be to figure out how to break that task down to smaller and more manageable shorter-term goals. See if you can break it down – and I’ll bet that you can – into a series of small, daily tasks that’ll net you progress.

You don’t need to keep the entire task in your head. You can keep the idea of the end goal in your head to pull out when times get tough, and you need a boost to get the daily task done. You can also keep the memory of all of the previous times that you did get the work done. You can see how far along you’ve come from where you started.

That’s how you get from here to there. One step at a time. Some times you may be capable of more steps than you thought. Celebrate those times. Use them to stretch yourself a little. But keep taking those steps.

You’ll get there.

Time: 12:32 PM – ish

Music: Um…none. How weird is that?


Be sure to check out the Freebies Page and, in case you missed it earlier, I am also posting on the Million Words Blog today. If you’re looking for something else to read, you can check that out.


See you on Friday!


And GO Leinster Rugby!!!!