Wow, where have I been? It’s been a very busy fall and winter. In October, I volunteered at Screamfest, a haunted house attraction in Acton, Ontario. Three weekends of terrifying visitors, sending them screaming for the exits was great fun. I also volunteered at two other haunted attractions, the Guelph House of Horrors and Thornhill Woods Haunted House. This all led up to the big night: Halloween! I met several friends and we headed off on a “haunt crawl” visiting several home haunts where people decorate their front yard for Halloween. As most of us are normally busy that night, volunteering at another haunted attraction, this was the first time in years we could be “civilians” and enjoy the holiday.
And through it all, I continued to write every day! At the beginning of September, I increased my word count goal to 120,000 words and I expected that would be it. The final goal. That held until the beginning of December and I realized I was getting too damned close! So much to my own surprise, I increased it again on December 6 to 125,000 words. And on December 30th, with one day to spare, I hit it, reaching 125,160 words. But there was no rest for the wicked on New Year’s Eve day, oh no. I kept going and finished the year at an all time high of 126,082 words.
Talk about ending the year with a bang!
Looking back I found several strategies worked to keep me focused and motivated. They included tracking, public declarations, getting support, and awareness of rhythms in the work.
Tracking – I used a spreadsheet I developed to track my word count on a daily basis. This allowed me to watch my progress steadily increase, sometimes slowly and sometimes in great leaps. It was very inspiring.
Public Declarations – I used my Twitter account linked to my personal Facebook page to report on how I was doing. This motivated me because I wanted to continue to report on my progress.
Getting Support – This tied in with the public declarations. I was pleasantly surprised by the support I received from friends and even strangers on Twitter as I worked toward my goal. Simple words of cheer really helped when I was struggling to push my word count up. It also gave me the opportunity to offer my support to others.
Awareness of Rhythm – After the first several months, I started to notice a natural rhythm to my work. I would go through a period of high productivity followed by a period of low productivity. During October which was a very busy month away from writing, my word count was low as I expected. Having the tracking sheet allowed me to anticipate when I might have a slow period and served as a reminder of how much I had accomplished. It seems to be a natural human state to discount the good we’ve done and harp on all the bad. I wanted to move away from the tendency to beat myself up for not writing tons all the time. I wanted to focus on the consistency and what was working.
And boy, it really did all seem to work!
I am more than thrilled with the progress I made in 2010. From April 6 to December 31, I wrote every day. From a very initial goal of 70,000 words, I bypassed my final goal to hit 126,082 words. So where am I going in 2011?
For this year, I am aiming for 150,000 words. Already I am making excellent progress. So far, I’ve written 2,600 words. I have writing friends who have shared their goal with me and we’re cheering each other on. I’m trying different options, like switching the time of day for writing or writing several times during a day in shorter bursts. I’ll do whatever it takes to get the words down, to keep adding numbers to my daily tracking sheet, to hit, no, make that pass that goal of 150,000 words.
What goals have you made for this year and what are your strategies to meet them?