Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Making Progress



If you scroll down my sidebar a ways, you'll see my "stats" for a Book-in-a-Month I'm participating in. (See Tristi Pinkston's blog for details, this particular BIAM is her baby. And she's doing a great job, by the way.) The idea behind a BIAM is that the participants set aside some time every day for writing, and they write as much as they can without going back to edit. This is key; for a lot of writers, that internal editor will keep them from ever finishing anything because they keep going back and changing what they've written. After you've finished your book and your story has sufficiently evolved, you can go back and fix things.

During the BIAM, participants are held accountable for what they produce. Every day, they report back to the others how many words they've written. They might discuss their writing adventures and cheer each other on. And the BIAM ringleader (in this case, Tristi Pinkston) often shares words of motivation to keep people going.

Now, to be honest, I've participated in BIAM's before. And I really like the original idea behind them, where you actually begin and complete a whole book in a month's time. (See the NaNoWriMo site for more information on this adventure.) That requires a lot of writing, as well as time-juggling if you're not used to putting in that many hours at the keyboard. If you write 3000 words a day for 30 days, you'll have a 90,000 word book to show for it at the end. Pretty cool, huh?

But if it takes you half an hour to write 500 words, it's gonna take you six hours a day to write 3000 words. That's nearly the equivalent of the time spent on a full-time job. For many people, setting that kind of goal isn't practical. Much as we'd love to churn out a whole book that quickly, many of us don't have that kind of time. And besides, many of us can't think of that much to say in one sitting.

Well, back to my point. In the past, I've set higher word-count goals for myself. I've wanted to approach that finishing-a-book-in-a-month thing, and I've set higher word count goals than perhaps I should have. And I've also ended up missing many days because I simply couldn't spend the time writing that much.

So this time I've set what I consider to be a modest goal: 500 words a day. And it's amazing how much easier it's been to stick with it this time. Sure, I'm not going to have 90,000 words written by the end of the month. But check my stats--so far I have over 6000 words written and the number's only going higher. It's progress!

You can apply this lesson to your own lives in terms of realistic goal setting, sticking with things,
or whatever else you can dream up. As for me, put a star on my forehead because I'm actually moving forward! Woo-hoo!

4 Comments:

Ajoy said...

Progress certainly is THE key. Good job on making realistic goals and expectations for yourself. A wise woman!

Let's just say that when Tristi mentioned having another BIAM in January...I planned on participating.
I plan on participating alright- but I will be working on this same novel! hehehe

Katie Parker said...

Hey, January isn't so far from now. If you do a few of these BIAM's, you'll be finished in no time! There's nothing like the camaraderie of these events (and the pressure of reporting in) to get that writing going!

Hopefully I'll be on a different book by January...fingers crossed...

Tristi Pinkston said...

And you are doing beeeyooootifully, Katie!

Katie Parker said...

Why, thank you, Tristi! Thanks for all your help!

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