I have read many suggestions for writers to plan and track their work and I always find the results discouraging. I never achieve what I set out to and then feet worse about my effort than if I had not planned at all. A couple of things changed that recently and I now find planning and tracking important.
First, I realized my goals were unrealistic. I used to create my goals for a month’s writing based on someone else’s and thought them modest enough. They were not. Second, I discovered the key to making them realistic was to make them more specific. So rather than saying I will plot and create characters this month, and next I will outline, I need to be more detailed and concrete. My goals are now something like: sketch plot by potential chapters – identify each plot point. Then, flesh out characters X, Y, and Z. Sometimes there needs to be some world or setting development and those items need to be specific too. This way rather than staring at some large unbounded goal I have specific tasks that need to be completed. I still call them goals, however, because a task that isn’t 100% complete seems like a failure, whereas a goal that is 95% achieved is a win.
My progress from last month and my plans for this month are positive which makes me energized and anxious to get to work.