Habits and Goals

This is Day 29 of my challenge to write 1500 words a day
until I finish books 2 and 3 of my trilogy. I’ve failed to meet the goal three
times. I’ve exceeded it a few times, too, which leaves me with a goal of 43.5k
words by the end of today. I’m sitting at 44,884. (I began before the first day with 894. Right on target!)

I often read about goals and habits. Writing has become a
habit for me. A habit I have cultivated deliberately. It takes 28 days to form
a new habit. I’m still not sure what it takes to break an old habit.

Habits are something you get accustomed to doing. It isn’t
about whether the action is good or bad – it is simply what you do in a given
situation. So the habit becomes sitting in a chair and letting the words pour
out onto the paper. I’m practicing to do this every day. It isn’t about good
words or bad words. I know I can edit it later.

Editing is another skill I am cultivating. It is far from a
habit, but I’m progressing.

A goal is something different. Something mindful. Something
you choose to do. Goals are set with the intention to create something, bring
something into your existence, accomplish something. I read about SMART goals,
and it always reminds me of Michelle Tuesday talking about how “more” is a
horrible goal word. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic,
Timely.

SMART goals are where many of us fail in our resolutions. We
say we want to write more, to lose weight, to do something vague but impressive
sounding. If you want to write my current goal in a SMART way: I will write
1500 words a day, every day, from July 24 to October 31.
This nets me 150,000 words on one project: the two sequels for The Next Jane.
This goal isn’t impossible for me, because I had been writing at least 750
words a day, and I know in times of NaNo I can write a lot more than that. I
can measure this, and I have a time frame that I want to do it. Keeping that pace for 100 days, though, is a bit exhausting.

If that were my only goal, I’d finish it every day. However,
my time limits me to only certain times of day to write.

I’ve seen people write that the only thing you get good at doing with your 750 words a day (from the Morning Pages) is writing 750 words. I know that pushing myself to double that is pushing, but I’m gaining coherence through projects by getting them out in a short period of time. It might be my habit to sit down and write 750 words at a time. But if I plan around that, I create short bursts of story. They coincide with my outline. Later, I wave them together.

Some habits can be put into line with goals to create progress. What are you doing to reach your goals?

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