It’s the last Scrivener post of 2019! Time flies, as anyone who’s ever tried to write a novel well knows. And since I’m sure a bunch of you out there are thinking about writing goals for 2020, I thought I’d share, for this week’s installment of the #52WeeksOfScrivener series, how I use Scrivener in conjunction with the old Bullet Journal, to track (and hit) my writing goals. Here goes…
A Little Backstory
I got WAY off course with my writing at the end of last summer. The kids were off school, none of our usual routines were in place. Even so, I was maintaining pretty well until I got an ovarian cyst that completely knocked me for a loop. Who knew that shit could hurt so much? I guess lots of women, actually, but I certainly didn’t. Anyway, I was on a bunch of pain meds and not writing AT ALL.
And just like exercise, writing is really hard to get back into if you stop for any significant period of time. Even once I was feeling better, and the kids were back in school, I was having a lot of trouble getting back on track with my draft.
Where I Wanted To Be
My writing goal was to have a completed draft of 120,000 words by the end of October. I had about 84,000 words when I started. Writing six days a week, I figured out I’d have to write about 1,100 words a day to hit my goal.
Now, if you’re working in Scrivener, you can have it do the calculations for you. Go to Projects -> Project Targets (shortcut command shift T). Click on options, then Session Target.
A “session” is the period of time in which Scrivener will track your word count. I aim to write six mornings a week, so I click those mornings and set my sessions to reset at 1am. If you tend to write through the night, you might set it to reset when you leave for work in the morning. You can also have it reset when you close the document. Experiment to find what works for you.
Now click “okay.”
What you’ll notice is that Scrivener has calculated how many words you’ll need to write on each of your writing days, based on which days you intend to write and the total words you’re shooting for. Pretty sweet, right? It gets better.
If you miss a day, Scrivener will automatically recalculate, and your daily word count goal will go up so that you know how much you have to write every day to make your deadline.
If you write on a day that you weren’t planning to write, or if you have a great day and write way past your daily goal, Scrivener will recalculate and your daily word count goal will go down. That’s always fun.
Here Comes the Geekery
I’m going to geek out for a sec, but I’m hoping that it might help other, like-minded nerds, if they’re stuck with their writing.
My project has six chapters, so I’m roughly shooting for 20,000 words a chapter. I went through and calculated how many words I needed to write for each chapter:
Chapter 1: I have 17,000 words, so I need another 3,000
Chapter 2: need another 6,000 words
Chapter 3: need another 10,000 words
Chapter 4: need another 2,000 words
Chapter 5: need another 10,000 words
Chapter 6: need another 16,000 words
Then, I divided the words needed by 1,100 (my daily goal) to find out how many writing days I will be spending on each chapter:
Chapter 1: about 3 days
Chapter 2: about 5.5 days
Chapter 3: about 9 days
Chapter 4: about 2 days
Chapter 5: about 9 days
Chapter 6: about 14 days (ug – the hardest chapter – I’m so dreading these 14 days)
Bringing It Back To The BuJo
Every day, when I’m done with my writing, I color in a square for every 100 words I wrote. You can see here what September looked like when I was about half way through. I gave myself Sundays off (or used them to catch up). You can see some days I was totally rocking it, writing as many as 2,000 words, and then there was that one day I only got 400 words on the page.
And okay, yes, when I started with the BuJo I said I would “never” be the kind of person to “carry around a case of different colored markers with which to decorate a glorified day planner,” but I find it really motivating to color in a square for each hundred words I write. It’s SO satisfying. And I don’t know why, but I love looking at it and seeing all those colorful squares. It’s a really quick snapshot of work actually getting done.
What’s more, I know if I’m suffering on a section, it won’t last forever. When I was hating chapter two, I just looked at my calendar and knew I only had to spend another three days on it and then I would have my word count and I would move on. I’ll worry about making it good on the next draft.
And if that wasn’t enough reason to love the BuJo, having this little map also helps alleviate any fears that I’m spending too much time in one chapter. I’m writing to 20,000 words on each chapter and then moving on. I will certainly come back. The chapters won’t be 20,000 words when I’m done with the final draft, but it’s a good starting point, and it prevents me from writing a 40,000-word chapter 1 while avoiding chapter 6 all together because I’ve run out of time (which I would totally do to myself because I don’t want to write chapter 6).
And that’s it. I hope it’s as useful for you as it is for me.
Happy New Years, y’all. Hope you find a fun way to celebrate the end of 2019. I’ll be back next week with more Scrivener tips. Stay tuned, follow on Twitter with #52WeeksOfScrivener, or sign up for my newsletter to get a weekly digest of all my posts.