Novel Buddies & Goal Charts

Novel Buddies

My MFA friend, Ashley Cowger, and I have decided to become novel writing buddies this year. She’s written a few novels before, and this is my first one. We’re going to set word goals and hold each other accountable. Not in a threatening way, just in an “I know what your goals are – how’s it coming along?” kind of way.

I’ve always kind of felt like writers go to some remote, secret space when they embark on a novel. So it’s nice to have this mutual word playground. We’re building our own castles, but we can talk to each other while we pat the sand into shape.

Commonplace Book

I still have my lovely notebook for keeping ideas, random journal entries, and bits of inspiration. But I wanted to get a notebook specific to my novel project. And I needed for it to be light, so that I would actually carry it around with me. I can’t really take my laptop to work and write on my novel during my lunch break (I tried – too stressful). But I want this novel to be a part of my life for the time I’m working on it. I want to fall into the story and then write my way out.

So I did some browsing and found a great little journal :

It was super cheap ($3), has tight binding, good paper quality, and is small – not quite as wide as the tip of my forefinger. I can throw it in the back pocket of my purse and have it with me if inspiration strikes.

Here is my prediction: novels are like people. The more time you spend just hanging around, just being with them, the better you get to know them. Listening to their story before you tell yours is how you make a friend.

Taking this commonplace book with me reminds me to listen:

Researching, bringing words and themes from different sources together

Goal Charts
Here’s our goal: 10,000 words by November 15th. I started out with a daily word goal of 150. I kept it up for two days.

Goal chart for the novel project’s first deadline

But even though I stopped writing words on paper, I didn’t stop writing. I’ve been twisting the story this way and that in my head, trying to find the angles that catch the most light. At one point I became so frustrated that I swore off this novel idea, started working on something else, and that’s when the lightbulbs started going off.

All of those little X marks where I didn’t write, they still kept my mind tethered to the story. And they made me honestly evaluate how I’ve been spending my time.

My daily word goal is up to 210. I’m getting a really good feel for how not terrifying writing a novel can be, at least, drafting a novel. And while I can’t allow myself too many reverie breaks, I feel more centered and motivated now that I know my novel a little better.

8 thoughts on “Novel Buddies & Goal Charts

  1. Good for you, Jenni! I'll have to dust off my ol' novel and kick the tires a bit, I think. I've also got a new idea, one which mabe is part of the same universe as the first novel. Who knows?! Keep writing!


  2. Yay! I love your goal sheet. I keep my goals in a spreadsheet on the computer, and it's very lifeless and dull. Yours makes me think maybe I should be handwriting my goals. It seems more, I don't know, more meaniingful that way. Is it written inside your novel notebook? I should get one of those, too.

  3. Yay! I'm so excited for you! I've never had a dedicated writing buddy, but the massive community on NaNoWriMo has served in that capacity to great effect.

    Also, I love your icon for Sunday. So cute.

  4. Hi John! Very cool! I think it will be a good year for writing novels – you should start writing yours and we'll have a good number for a novel crit group! 🙂

  5. Thanks Ashley! The goals are just another page in my novel notebook, one of my attempts to trick my mind into feeling like the stakes are low but still there. 🙂 I'm going to start decorating my novel notebook with images – I want it to be a cool artifact in itself once it's done. You should get one! 🙂

  6. It seems like NaNo is amazing for having writing buddies – a whole network of them! 🙂 I'm hoping to go to the write-ins this year – might do a special NaNo project in the midst of the novel.

  7. Yay!! 🙂 Thanks! All those little boxes remind me that it's the gradual accumulation of writing that makes a difference, which I sometimes forget at the end of a long day.

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