I've found over the past few years that I need defined, measurable goals to keep myself focused. National Novel Writing Month, which I completed back in November 2009, was a boon for me, productivity-wise, because it kept me on task. In order to make the 50,000-word goal by the end of November, you need to write approximately 1,667 words every day. It was an ambitious goal, but I found that it was a doable one. I could mark my progress daily, figure out whether I was on target, and adjust my work time and output if I was not.
In 2010 I wrote a novel, which I spent a good chunk of 2011 revising. Unfortunately, in 2011 life got in the way, and my output of new material was...well, crappy. I got a new job, which altered my work hours. (I had previously been writing mostly in the mornings, before I had to go to work at 10:30. Now, I have to be in the office by 7:30. Somehow, getting up at 7 and writing for two hours is a lot less daunting than getting up at 4 and writing for two hours.) I also had to travel for work a lot more, especially during the summer. Plus, there was a lot of other stuff going on in my personal life that took my time and emotional energy, some of it good, some of it...not. I had thought things would calm down after the New Year and I'd be able to write more, but so far I've been lacking.
I think I need to set a goal for myself again.
So I'm thinking about doing my own mini-NaNo, in which I set my own personal goal of 50,000 words in a month. One of my Facebook friends pointed out that 50,000 may be too ambitious a goal. He may be right. I completed NaNo without a problem in November 2009. But in November 2009, I was single with a job that required no traveling. Here in February 2012, I have to live with the fact that the office may send me away at very short notice--and frankly, I don't get much done while traveling.
Plus, I'm no longer single; I'm now involved with a guy who lives three hours away. The distance is not terrible (especially considering that, once upon a time, I kinda/sorta dated a guy who lived in the United Kingdom!), but it does mean that some thought and planning and coordination are required before I see him--not to mention the travel time there and back, if I go there. Plus, once I'm there, I'm not really thinking about my fictional world; the real one is so much more engaging, at that point. (And writing is a very, very solitary activity for me, and I have difficulty forcing so much as a sentence of fiction out with other people around.)
Frankly, I want to see him whenever I can. I dig him. Things are pretty much cupcakes with a side of ice cream right now. So yeah, it's definitely a time suck that I didn't have two and a half years ago. But it's a time suck I want, and it's non-negotiable. Writing may be good for my mental health, but so is he.
So yeah...50,000 words was doable back in November 2009, but in February 2012 it may be a strain. That said, I need to find a way to fit writing into my life now, without sacrificing the things that are important to me. I need to set a goal for myself that is both ambitious enough to feel like an accomplishment, yet realistic enough to be completed without killing myself.
The aforementioned Facebook friend suggested three pages a day. Since word counts are something that my damned left brain (which I keep trying to get rid of), I'm thinking maybe 25,000 words in the next 30 days. Total of 834 words a day. Doable, right? And also something I may be able to progress into future months.
And if I make it, I'm totally buying myself something nice next month.