It was exactly 41 days ago that I started writing again.
And yesterday, 40 days after typing that first word, I typed my 88,488th, and finished the first draft of this WIP. That's almost 90K in less than a month and a half. I've never written that much, that fast before. But I had a secret weapon this time.
Star Bucks Double Shot espresso.
Okay, two secret weapons. I also set a goal, as well as a deadline.
Oh, I've set goals before and made deadlines. Thousands of them. But I never kept them. Not one. In the nine years that I've been writing, I've never met one of the deadlines that I've set for myself. Pathetic, isn't it? And because I never met any of the deadlines, I never produced. Or at least I never produced well. I've written one book in the last nine years. I think its a good book, but still its just one. If I'd set goals and made deadlines and actually stuck to them, I might have nine books finished by now...I might even have gotten published.. ..
So what changed? What made the difference this time? Why was I able to make a goal, and set a deadline and actually stick to it. What inspired me to change my bad writing habits.
Well, as cliché as it may sound, I've had a serious awakening this past year. I lost my mother to cancer almost exactly a year ago and then I went through a serious health scare myself. I only have one regret with my mom. I wish I'd made the commitment to writing earlier and had found a road to publication. I wish I'd had an actual book to press into her hand before she died. My mom had always supported me, had always believed in me, and I wish I'd made the effort to actually do something with my writing. . . something to show her that her support and faith hadn't been squandered.
And then came my brush with mortality. In evaluating my life, I had a lot of regrets. One of them was the writing. . . or lack thereof. There is a deep sense of shame to having a dream, yet never making the effort to pursue it. There's a sense of cowardice, of unfulfillment. With my mom I can't go back--but with myself I can go forward. So I committed myself whole heartedly to pursuing this dream and then I set a goal and I made a deadline.
And once I had the major deadline chosen, I figured out how many words I needed a day to make that deadline happen. And then I sat down and I wrote those words--every day. The goal I chose was realistic. I was going to finish this first draft in 90 days. So my daily word count goal was 1000 words a day. In first draft mode, for me that takes about an hour. I chose this goal because an hour a day is easy for me, there is no excuse not to get it.
Still, I knew I needed support and through the years I'd lost most my writing buddies, so I decided to join Twitter and make some new ones. Smartest thing I've ever done. I found some kickass new writing buddies and they were all on self imposed deadlines too. Their deadlines, however, were much nearer than mine. They'd set November one as their finish the damn book deadline. And then a funny thing happened as I started to write. Once I'd hit my daily goal of 1K, I'd keep writing and the word count soared. After a while it became apparent that at the current rate of productivity, I could finish by November first too. So I upped my deadline to match theirs and I committed to finishing my first draft by October 31st.
Somedays I wrote a lot more than those 1000 words--my highest count was 6550--but there wasn't one day where I wrote less. And I finished one full day ahead of schedule.
Today I set new goals. Realistic goals, but this time for revisions.
I'm keeping the 1000 word goal. Only this time that means 1000 words revised and polished each day. This means I'll finish one chapter each week to send out to critique partners. My deadline to finish revisions is five months and then I'm tacking a month on for final polishing and then it goes out the door. 6 months more to finish this book, which makes my new deadline the first of May.
I'm not going to ask for luck on making this goal, because I don't need it. I need commitment, and goals, and deadlines, and determination and writing buddies and Starbuck's Double Shot Espresso. All of which I have in spades. (although I wouldn't mind if you sent me a couple of cases of Starbuck's Double Shot...this addiction is getting expensive)
Who needs luck when you've got such kick ass secret weapons like the ones above?