Keep your motivation alive – Part 2: Measure the miles

“What’s more motivating: ‘I’m still working on my book’ or ‘I’m a quarter of the way through’?”

What’s more motivating: *still working on my book* or *a quarter of the way through*?

Imagine running a marathon on a treadmill with no clocks, no counters, no scenery to mark your progress.  You don’t know your speed, how much you’ve done, how much you have left to go.  Every time you ask, the coach says “Just keep running.”  That’s insane.  And thoroughly demotivating.  You might still finish, but it sure as hell won’t be your best time.  Yet that’s how most of us write our books.

What’s more motivating: “I’m still working on my book” or “I’m a quarter of the way through my book”?  In marathons, we measure miles.  (Or count kilometres.)  In books, we work by word count.  That’s how you measure your progress.  So pick a number: mini ebook, 10,000 words; short book with lots of graphics, 40,000; average paperback, 80,000.  Don’t worry if your target length feels random, right now.  Just pick a number and divide it into markers: an eighth of the way through, a quarter, two-fifths…  Create yourself some process goals and plot them into your calendar, quarterly, monthly, and weekly.  Start using Microsoft Word’s word count tool: Tools > Word count.  Measure your progress, admire it, celebrate it. If you’d like more detailed guidance on mapping out your writing, and how to include planning and research time, take a look at Kickstart your book: Use process goals. That gives you the full breakdown plus a handy spreadsheet.

This approach needs to be carefully balanced, though, so also read…

NEXT: THE OPEN ROAD, OR HOW TO TREAT WRITING LIKE SEX

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