New Year, New Writing Goals — and a Writing System

The creator of Dilbert, Scott Adams, introduced me to the concept that a system is better than a goal. Part of the reason, as I recall, is because having a goal is just an end-point — where as a system is something that will help one reach their goal. This year, rather than setting lofty goals and beating myself up for it, I’m going to lay out what I want to accomplish this year, and the system for getting there.

First and foremost, my main goal is always to make writing something I can do as a job. But the reason for that is because I have so many stories I want to write and not enough time; therefore, the first task for me is to sort what I want to write out and write the best version of that I can. To do this, I’m going to use a modified version of Agile coding practices for writing — modified heavily, since there is no team, there is only me.

Part of Agile is the daily stand-up; I may use this blog for that, but it won’t be a traditionally daily stand up. Rather, I will post about what I wrote the day before, what I’m going to write in the coming day, and what is in my way. If I don’t write, it’ll be brief, with some introspection as to why.

Additionally, there are sprints in Agile, and I think I’m going to do that as well, in a sort of National Novel Writing Month fashion. The NNWM is basically a month long sprint, with a clear, defined goal: 50,000 words. I don’t like “month long” in this scenario, so today until November 1, I’m going to do three-week sprints. That won’t be long enough to finish a novel under most circumstances, but part of the point of Agile/Scrum is to break stuff into parts. I can certainly squeeze a beginning, middle, or end into that time frame.

The system for getting all this done is going to be as follows: I’m going to write 1,000 words of fiction every day. Even if it’s crap. Starting today, January 9th, I owe myself a thousand words per day. I will write every day. There’s no total to be kept track of, no making up for it — a day when I don’t reach the goal is a break down of the system. Extra words do not carry over.

Typically, this means I should be able to produce at minimum around twenty-one thousand words per sprint. Also, using three weeks and starting/ending on Tuesdays puts the fourteenth sprint ending right before National Novel Writing Month in November, and Sprint 15 starting and ending in December.

So, here’s to testing my system. The story I’m taking on for Sprint 1 is going to be something that’s been bugging me for a long time: I’m going to whip that mummy story into shape. Rewrites don’t count the total, so it’s going to be a little tricky. For added fun I’ve decided to steal the Ubuntu naming scheme, with an Adjective/Animal combination. Sprint 1: Audacious Asshole.