My two-week blogging break wasn’t planned. But I think I’m a little more refreshed after taking that break.
I was taking two writing classes, and each required a certain number of reviews of peers’ assignments each week. I was feeling burned out on writing. Both classes are nearly done, and I’m looking forward to a summer without assignments, so I can focus on my own work. (I’ll reconsider taking writing classes in autumn.)
I’ll soon take a week off of work, and I’m going to use that time for an at-home writing retreat. I’ve been thinking about daily goals for writing and reading during that week.
At first, I had ambitious goals for a daily word count. I also had a rigid schedule of hours per day I would write, read, and sleep. Since I don’t get paid for vacation breaks, I felt like I needed to pack my days full of writing to justify the money I wouldn’t be earning.
Yesterday, I read Chuck Wendig’s blog post about how he became a runner. (His full post can be read here.)
For the TL; DR crowd, this quote from Mr. Wendig’s piece sums it up well: “Find safe, sane, kind limits for yourself—and then you will find it increasingly easy to exceed them.” [sic]
He goes on to explain that we will find ourselves enjoying our successes, which can help us stick with our goals over the long term.
Reading that made me step back and reconsider my goals for my self-managed writing retreat. I’d initially had planned to write for ten hours each day. I’d also set the goal of reading for five and a half hours every day.
I’m still setting both of those as goals for my week off, but I’m dialing down the daily word count I’m expecting. At first, I’d thought about the maximum number of words I can typically write in a single hour, and I set that as the goal for every writing hour.
But that’s nuts. I know I won’t be able to sustain that word count for ten hours each day and for five consecutive days.
Now I’m setting myself a goal of 2,500 words per day for five days. That feels manageable, especially if I’m just writing and reading each day. If all goes well, I should manage to exceed that word count.
But if I only get 12,500 words out of five days of writing, that will feel pretty damned good. It’s a great start on a new short story or longer work.
If I decide to spend that week revising an existing work, then word counts aren’t useful. I haven’t figured out an efficient way to track word count when editing. But that’s where the daily writing hours comes in. I can tell myself I’ll spend X number of hours editing and use number of pages edited as a goal. (I’m still thinking about what that goal might be and how to measure it. If any writers have tips on how they measure revision goals, please let me know.)
Either way, I win. And I’m hoping that week of doing what I love will help me find the spark that’s been missing from my writing. I won’t have class assignment deadlines or peers’ assignments to review. I won’t have to go to work or run errands. I can just sink into the worlds I’m crafting and live with those characters for a while. It should be a lot of fun. And a boatload of hard work.