I shared several months ago how my gentleman friend made a special scarf hanger to commemorate each book I release. I admire it every day while I write, and I look forward to adding many more scarves
In late March, my gentleman friend and I celebrated what we jokingly refer to as the anniversary of our first date. It might be the oddest first date in history, since I'd requested the meet-up to seek his counsel as a divorce mentor. We'd originally planned a casual get-together at a coffee shop, but I was hired last-minute for a freelance article reviewing four fancy restaurants, and I dragged him along to the first one for the free meal. The meeting was a bizarre mix of tearful storytelling punctuated by over-attentive waiters bringing food while I secretly plotted to seduce my dinner companion.
But I digress.
When I woke on the one-year anniversary of this blessed occasion, here's what was nailed to the bedroom wall:
"It's a bucket board," he explained. "Sort of like a bucket list. We'll use the tags to write down things we want to do as a couple over the next year, and we mark off the ones we accomplish."
I may have swooned a bit, so it's a good thing I was still in bed. Over the last couple months, we've filled the tags with a variety of things. Some are small, like hikes we want to take. Others are bigger goals, like settling into a new home together. Either of us can write something on a tag if an idea strikes, and we mark the goals we've accomplished with little stickers.
I love the idea, not just because it's sweet and romantic, but because it's a good reminder of my need for goals. I've struggled a bit lately to carve out writing time for myself. Between author-related speaking engagements and blogging and interviews and contract negotiations and the day job and finding time to see my aforementioned gentleman friend on occasion, it can be a challenge to find time to actually write the books that made my schedule so nutty in the first place.
How did I used to do this? I asked myself recently. And I remembered one trick that was beautifully simple, yet effective.
Back when I was still pretty new to the fiction writing game, I used to pick a deadline for finishing a book. It was an arbitrary one, since no editors were breathing down my neck at that point, but I tried to make it both challenging and realistic. On my calendar, I'd write "85,000 words" on the day I wished to complete a first draft of the book with that number as my final word count. Then I'd figure out how many words I needed to write each day to accomplish that goal.
I marked every day on the calendar with what my word count should be by the time I switched off my computer for the night. Weekend days called for bigger jumps in my word count, and I made sure to budget time for days off and days when I just wasn't feelin' the love. If I missed my goal for a day or two, I knew I had to work hard to get back on track.
The system was surprisingly effective for me, and it's something I plan to start doing again immediately.
How do you keep track of your goals, either as a writer or for your life in general? Please share!
I have to go write something new on the bucket board. This one might call for a color illustration.