The Day of Impossible Goals

Yesterday was my day off, so I got up early and set myself an impossible goal. A goal of more words than I’ve ever written in a day (5,000) and 30 revision pages.

My writing software (YWriter) has a customizable one-day writing goal worksheet. You enter the number of words you want to write, and the time you want to be writing, and it spits out a chart to keep you on track. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I started there.

I started out not believing I could do 5,000 words. By the middle of the project, I was wondering if I shouldn’t have set the goal higher. The last third? Well, that was a slog. Oh, yes. That was why I didn’t set the goal at 10,000.

Things I Learned from My Impossible Goal

  1. That, yes, indeedy, I can do it, if I make time, and put my butt in the chair.
  2. That my actual, comfortable top-speed is probably more in the neighborhood of 3,500 words, not 5,000. 3,500 is where I felt like I could conquer the world. Where I was excited, and happy, and eager to keep going. By 5,000, I was pretty much drained. Total words for yesterday: 5,268
  3. I learned how easy it is to miss an hour. I didn’t, but I came really close a couple of times. Between lunch, email, Twitter, and stomping around the house for Fitbit hours, it was hard to get hold of some of those hours. It’s possible I should unplug my router, when I’m not using it.
  4. Bouncing from project to project works for me. I wound up with coherent chunks for all five of my projects. The words were unevenly distributed (as usual), but I didn’t spend a whole lot of time staring at blank pages and wondering what comes next.
  5. Record-keeping and visible goals work for me, too. Definitely needed to see those words adding up in order to do it.

And on the Revision Front…

A big revision goal is good for big-picture revision. You move fairly quickly through the text, and notice structural problems. You also don’t wind up fixating on personal-preference things, or minutiae quite as much.

On the down side, you don’t wind up catching minutiae as much. There were multiple passes through most of what I was working on. Yes, I did get through 30 pages.

All in all… it was possible. It worked out to a twelve or thirteen hour shift.


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