I talked last week about my timeline for my work-in-progress novel, from finishing the first draft to editing to distributing the pages to my First Readers... and all the other steps on the way to publication. The most important step to me (right now at least) is finishing the first draft. Without a completed first draft, I can't make any more forward motion on the project. I know you can go back and edit things which are already written, but to me it seems pointless to do steps out of order, especially if you never get a finished product to send to a publisher or agent. After all, we're trying to get a book published and out to the general populace, right? The public won't read your pages if they don't have them in their entirety, so... why should you go back to revise and polish something that's not complete?
I'm shooting to be done with the first draft by the beginning of May. For the last month I've been pacing myself to make sure I'm going to hit the 100,000 word mark by that date. I was at 55,000 words at the beginning of this month. I counted the weeks between then and May and realized if I can crank out a solid 5,000 words per week I'll be golden by the time my deadline gets here. I've created a calendar for myself in Publisher and every Monday I report in on my progress. I've watched the word count steadily rise over the last four weeks and it's truly exhilarating.
Last week I mentioned this pace to someone, and was greeted with a scoff. "5,000 words a week?" she asked, laughing and shaking her head. "When I did NaNo, I was doing close to that a day."
All right. So, I'm slow. Slower than those who work at the breakneck pace of NaNoWriMo, at least. But that's all right with me. I'm working at my own pace, budgeting my time between the 40+ hour-a-week Clark Kent job, creating my writer's platform, and birthing this book. Not to mention all the other things that take up our time as functioning members of society.
I've set a pace that will get me to my goal, and I'm sticking to it. If I get more than 5,000 words a week, GREAT. But all I'm wanting is the bare minimum goal from myself right now. So far I've made the goal every week, sometimes with a surplus of 2,000 + words, sometimes with only 80 or so. And all the while, my novel is marching towards its completion, delighting me, thrilling me, amazing me. I'm sucking in the experience and loving every single second of it. I'm savoring the time my book and I have together, because we've worked hard to get here. And I'm not questioning my goals, even though they may seem small to other people. After all, the race is yet to be won.
What are the pacing goals you set for yourself? Do you have to work by a schedule to get your first draft finished, or do you just work on it until it's complete?