New round, new writing goals

I believe I have always wanted to be a writer–at least since I was twelve and no longer had to struggle to compose a one-hundred word paragraph, sometime after a three-hundred word writing assignment stopped being an epic undertaking.

About that time I took up journaling, and that practice has been a part of my life in one form or another ever since. I may go months without writing in my journal, but I always come back to it.

I first started getting paid for my writing in college. It wasn’t a whole lot, fifty cents a column inch writing for the newspaper, but it was enough to make me cross over the line into professional writing. Years later I worked off and on for several local newspapers and a couple Internet publications as a freelance writer. And of course I got into blogging nearly ten years ago.

Like many writers I aspired to write a book, a novel, and even joined a writers’ group. I have various ideas for novels, but like a lot of writers I haven’t really started on that project yet, and I’m not sure how important it is to me anyway.

Somewhere along the line I picked up a simple piece of writing advice. In order to grow as a writer you need to write every day. It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be consistent.

I’ve thought about this piece of advice quite a bit during the recently closed Devtome round 27.

During previous rounds I’ve had various goals, such as write enough to earn five Bitcoins, or write enough to earn ten million Devcoins. During Round 26, I made it my goal to only contribute newly written material, though in Round 27 I resorted to a couple short stories I’d written a while ago just to get my share count up.

I hardly wrote at all during Round 27. Not until closer to the end. I have many good reasons/excuses for this, most of which center around the beginning of the school year. When both you and your spouse work in the education field and you home school your children, let’s just say that the beginning of a new academic year is a really intense time. I had lots of days where I’d be working hard all day and the evening would come and I’d finally get the children to bed and sit down in front of my computer to write… only to realize that I was just too exhausted and really needed the sleep.

Around the time that Round 26 closed, a fellow Devtome author expressed dismay that yet another round had closed without him (or her) contributing something. I could totally put myself in his (or her) shoes and know exactly what happened. The way the Devtome works, you pretty much have to write at least 20,000 words in a round in order to get some significant earnings–the kind that amount to several million DVC which could be traded into a couple Bitcoins. But if you’ve procrastinated writing anything for most of the round, then coming up with 20,000 words in the last week before the round closes is a most daunting task. But you have it in your head that anything less than that won’t be adequate, so you figure that it’s not worth trying if you’re going to fall short.

It was a great reminder to me that actually, falling short on share count is still preferable to getting no shares. It also was a good reminder that much as I’d love to immediately maximize my earnings by writing 80,000 words all at once, then taking the rest of the month off, that is unlikely to happen. Even if I didn’t lead a full and busy life, I’d probably be confronted with writer’s block long before I wrote that much.

When it comes to writing consistently, slow and steady wins the race really does hold true. Sure, there are those sudden, intense spurts of inspiration which produce much content, and they should be taken full advantage of. But you can’t count on the inspiration, motivation and time always being there at the same time. Maybe you have lots of inspiration and you’re motivated, but darn it, you absolutely have to file your income taxes so you can’t write, and when you’re done paying your dues to Uncle Sam, both the inspiration and motivation turn up missing.

Most of the time you have to set smaller, more attainable goals, and then stick with them (even when you don’t feel like it). The goals should be more along the lines of “I will write 1,000 words a day,” or “I will write 5,000 words a week.” Then you make a point to sit down every day and write something, even if it’s only a paragraph. Maybe you only have fifteen minutes a day to spend on writing. Then you have to be content with producing what can be reasonably produced in fifteen minutes.

With all this in mind I’ve decided to set a different sort of goal for this round. I’m not going to concern myself so much with how many writing shares I’ll get, nor with how much those writing shares are worth. Instead, I’m going to make it my goal to publish something every day this round. Ideally, I would publish an article that’s roughly 1,000 words in length, or worth one share. However, I’d rather publish a 400 word article than nothing at all, so I’m not going to be too picky about the length.

I want to reach the end of the round feeling satisfied with the amount of writing I’ve contributed, knowing that I don’t need to write anything extra to beef up my earnings, though I could if I so choose. Sometimes I will have a couple hours to churn out a few articles, but often I won’t. I want to be sure that regardless I’ve published plenty of content throughout the round. Even if I did have a few hours at the end of this round like I did yesterday, it would still be so much nicer if the extra writing was bonus, rather than catching up.

My goal this round is to write and publish something every day. I’m aiming for 1,000 words, or one share, each time, but will take less if needed. If I manage to stick with this for the entire round I should easily rack up thirty or more shares by the end of the round.

Read New round, new writing goals on the Devtome!

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