There is a theory in business management that states that completion of a given task will take the time alotted for that task. Meaning, if you alot an hour for a job, humans being humans, status being quo, it will take an hour to finish that job.
So, if you give yourself an indeterminate amount of time in which to write a novel, it may, or may not, get finished at all. But most of us dearly want to finish, don't we? This is why NANOWRIMO is a good thing--so good in fact that it shouldn't be saved for just once a year.
I say, listen to the experts. Make a SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess) on how long it would take you to crank out a first draft of a novel, or whatever you're wishing you could produce. IF you were focused. IF you made the time. IF you intend to really make a career of writing. And by all means, be honest with yourself.
Don't plan to write every day. I'm planning for 5 days per week and calculated accordingly. If I miss a day, then it will cut into my weekend, so that's just more motivation.
I looked back at the last book I wrote (I kept a little record) and looked at my average page count for days I actually wrote some. (This was just writing for a few hours a day, not 6 or 8 hours.)I multiplied that by five days a week, then 52 weeks a year. Then I divided that by 350 pages and had, in front of me, how many books I can crank out in a year.
I had to sit down.
SIDE NOTE: If your SWAG is more than 6 months for one book, then you can stop reading now. You have better things to do than read this crap.
For those of you still reading, I suggest you stop for a moment, do the little exercise with your calculator, and see just what you are capable of. I think you'll be surprised. I think you'll be disappointed in yourself for not doing better in the last twelve months.
I know I am.
Also, don't feel pressured into making your plan longer than is reasonable for you. Small bites. Reasonable goals. I just happen to be making a plan for the next 12 months, not just one. Would one be reasonable? Yes. Is 12 months unreasonable? Maybe, but I'm moving up from String Theory to Rope Theory.
Before I tell you my plan, let me warn you that my plan also involves editing an hour or two in the evenings and on weekends. I know there will be other duties to this BUSINESS besides cranking out raw material. I haven't lost all ability to reason. I'm not functioning under the influence of a full moon. (That was days ago.)
Also, a note about my last book: I was MOTIVATED. I was writing to the market--gasp! I was armed with an agent's prediction of what was the new hot thing and I was going to crank out just that. I did have another novel I had to finish and send off before I could start on THE BOOK, but once I started (I'd given myself 6 weeks), I did it in four.
You see something wrong here, don't you? So you should. I'd given myself six weeks to get it done. I told that agent I would be sending it in 6 freaking weeks! Only I was determined to edit it and have some beta readers go over it first--THAT's what cut my time back to 4 weeks.
The completion of any given [novel] will require the time alotted for that [novel]. I alotted four weeks. It took four weeks. Did I miss days altogether? Yes. Did my husband resent it a little? Sometimes. Did the commitment to that agent drag me over each and every obstacle?
My ambition did it.
I am an ambitious beyotch. I'm sure I can come up with reasons for it. But ambition is my strength and my weakness. Somedays I pay dearly for it. Someday it'll be paying me.
This year is no different. This year I'm planning to write six novels. It's reasonable...for someone with my drive, and honey, I drive fast.
That's nearly half a million words, by the way. It's 7.3 pages per day. Five days a week. No weeks off. I'm going to set up a countdown on this blog, so you can see if I'm behind. I'm going to stay off email for the most part and hope I don't lose friends.
I'm also going to be published by Valor Publishing; the first book comes out in April. I'm going to do booksignings out the wahzoo, get a son graduated, sent on a mission, and get the older one back home and married off. I'm going to be babysitting Copy and Paste when needed, work part time, and keep my husband and I on our Biggest Loser Roller Coaster Ride. NO! You won't be seeing a grid on that info! Suffice it to say, it's nearly half a million.
So no, I won't be living with my laptop in a closet, being fed through the cracks by a bunch of sons who would be more than happy to share less and less of their daily alotment of food. (The theory they've proven is that whatever the amount of food alotted for a meal cannot expand to fill the imagined caloric requirements of male subjects under 22.)
I will be living my normal abbynormal life. I will also be living my normal abbynormal dream. I'll either live to tell about it or make more traditional use of that ROPE THEORY.