To succeed wildly at any endeavor, one must set goals. Now there’s a school of thought (normally associated with marketing) called “low hanging fruit.” The idea is to go for the quick and easy win. You feel good. Your basket is full. You’re a winner.
However, you’ve only harvested the goodies from the very bottom of the tree. What about all the golden fruit growing perfect in the sunshine near the top, or thick and juicy near the middle? Besides that, once all the easy fruit is taken, now what?
If you haven’t planned for it, haven’t brought your ladder, your telescoping fruit plucker, or your climbing shoes, you’re shit out of luck.
For the most part, to get yourself started on a project or boost your morale and build momentum, this is an excellent way to go. But it’s just a first step. If you want to move on to bigger and better things, you need a bigger and better plan.
Mine is to set myself up for failure.
Here’s the deal. It’s wonderful to set a modest goal of 500 or 1,000 words a day. It’s a great way to get started from a complete stop. It’s super easy to hit 500 words. 1,000 words is just as easy. Maybe an hour’s work. Boom. You’re done. Brush off your pants, and step away from the computer.
If you follow this path, you’ll probably always hit your goal. You’ll always be a winner in the word-count department. But so what? This is like a long-distance runner jogging around the block once a day. Congratulations on running the block, but aren’t you trying to run marathons?
I want to write novels, the literary equivalent to marathons. My goal is to average 3,000 words a day. It sounds like a lot. Maybe it is. And if you tally it up, 3,000 words a day will take you 95,000 words past 1,000,000 words in a year. That’s a crazy insane amount of work. And it’s completely doable.
I rarely hit 3,000 though. Most of the time I land somewhere in the 2,000 range. But if I set a goal for 5,000 for the day, I almost always will hit 3,000 and a little past.
In other words, day in and day out, I’m failing at meeting my word count goal. That’s okay. I’m still tallying up better word counts at the end of the day than if I just set my goal at 500 or 1,000. And the higher I raise the goal, the higher my word counts get…even if they always fall just short.
As it is, I would rather fall short every single day this year and be the proud owner of a million words, than meet my goals every day, having written 365,000 words with one hand tied behind my back.
So off I go! I’m so close to finishing this novel. Maybe I’ll write 5,000 words today! <wink>