Earlier today I reached the 50,000 word mark on a new novel I’m writing called Battle Angels (temporary title) which took a total of 46 days to reach. I didn’t quite hit the pace I was hoping for (50,000 in thirty like NaNoWriMo), but life has a way of throwing you a curve ball every now and then. I have to remind myself that writing is not a sprint race, it is an endurance run that you just keep chipping away at bit by bit, milestone by milestone.
The important thing is that I hit my milestone for the novel at 50K words (technically the second one). It makes me smile, because for me, milestones are the best way for me to pat myself on the back for a job well done and continue to drive me forward to the next milestone.
This got me to thinking about my work ethic and what drives me to keep putting in the time to keep moving forward in whatever project I’m working on whether it be writing, gaming, or doing creating some artwork. Like most people, I need milestones to reach that are small enough to be obtainable throughout the project and be far enough ahead to make significant progress in my work. This helps me manage my time and still be productive. The key is to keep striving towards those milestones.
Now not everyone needs milestones to push themselves forward, while other people make them, but then don’t stick to them cause other stuff comes up and gets in the way. Regardless of your situation, I think that everybody should have some sort of milestone in their work, whether it be a word count, a plot point, or a number of chapters in the case of writing. Yes, even you people who don’t really need them should have them anyway. It’s a good practice to have and something you will find in the professional word somewhat mandatory.
Deadlines are the bane of an artist, but a necessary one. They help ease your client’s worries of unfinished work. Now unless your some big shot artist or writer, you will have to work at your client’s deadline, not your own. Milestones will help you break up that deadline to make your work more manageable. It may suck, but if you start now while you are still trying to break into the field, you will be putting yourself in a much better position to succeed.
The trip down success lane may be a long and arduous highway, but there are mile markers to help guide you along the way so pay attention them instead of ignoring them because they won’t steer you wrong.