On WritingLast week, I railed on pragmatism. Generally, I find ‘realism’ and fiction writing to be somewhat at odds, but not in every case. In fact, I’ll give you a prime example–one that fits nicely with last week’s post.

If you are serious about writing fiction, you need to set goals. (I’ve written about this before.) I believe this so thoroughly that, as I confessed in the linked article, I keep a spreadsheet to track mine. If I don’t, one of two things happens: either, I don’t come remotely close to achieving my goals without the accountability, or I achieve them, but I have no idea how or why. When I track my writing time and word-count goals, I have some idea of what I did and how I did it. It’s invaluable information.

On the surface, the idea of keeping a spreadsheet may feel like it flies in the face of my ‘dream big!’ rant from last week, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you take something seriously, and if you’re truly devoted to meeting the goals you outline for yourself, then it’s the most natural thing in the world to track those goals. After all, that’s the only way to really gauge your performance, and the only way to find the flaws in your process and fix them.

Said another way, the self-accountability of recording your goals, targets and progress will make you a better writer.

What should you track? That’s up to you. I track word-count and time. The time component doesn’t matter to me as much as word-count. If I can hit my word-count goal in 2 hours, I consider that success, even if I allotted 6 hours. Why bother tracking time? Because it helps me see how efficient I’m being and gives me a better idea of how much I should be writing in x number of hours.

I know. It all sounds terribly mathematical and boring. Like you, I just want to create, but the process of creation will make or break the product, so it matters. Assuming you’re serious about writing, that is.

And you are, right? Then set goals. Find some way to track them, and hold yourself to them. You may not enjoy collecting the data, but you’ll thank me for the boost in your productivity.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

4 Responses to pragmatic

  1. tristdagon says:

    Good advice, I completely agree with it. If you want to make a living off of your work you need to treat it like it already is your job. You need to set goals and hold yourself accountable for reaching them. At least that’s how I feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dex says:

      Even if you don’t plan to make a living from it, if you take anything seriously, goals are a necessity. Period.

      Very few people succeed at much of anything in life without setting goals and holding themselves accountable. Personally, I love writing, but even loving it, it’s so very easy to go days without being genuinely productive. Tracking my progress is what keeps me going!


  2. I completely agree. Probably won’t comply, but I agree!! *You will definitely succeed, oh wise one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • dex says:

      Honestly, I don’t enjoy tracking this shit. It’s only fun when I meet all my goals, but that doesn’t happen daily. When it does, however, I get a nice sense of accomplishment. Then I go to sleep and get to do the whole thing over again!


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