Want to meet your writing goals? Apps can make the process much easier.
I’ve used and loved Scrivener since 2005. The app’s so rich, and so well designed, it’s an author’s treasure. Whether you’re writing a single book, a long series, or a serial, Scrivener keeps you organized. It also helps you to extend yourself as a writer: you’ll take on projects you’d find impossible if you had to rely on just a word processor.
For short projects, like Web content, blog posts, and client projects, I use Ulysses.
Before we focus on the apps’ usefulness in helping you to meet your writing goals and increase your income, let’s look at writing goals in general.
Targets and writing goals: essential for all writers, especially if you hope to make money
I’ve written about creating and achieving writing goals.
In this post, Achieve Your Writing Goals, Finally, I said:
Until you commit 100% to a goal — this, or death — you can’t be 100% certain that you’ll achieve it…
Never mind your goals, focus on processes
… “Goals are really about process – the results are ancillary.”
You need to create a map to your goal, and the roads which will lead you to it. The “roads” are writing processes.
You need both goals, and processes. Here’s why. You can’t achieve your goals, without having processes in place.
With my writing students, I find that perhaps one in 20 has a clearly defined goal.
Your goal-setting begins when you decide what you want. Yes, I know. This is hard — it’s hard for everyone. 🙂 Here’s a tip: your goal doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a goal, and a strategy to achieve it. Goals change, as you change, and you learn more about yourself and your writing.
So create/ choose/ pick a goal, any goal for your writing, and set a deadline.
Then you can focus on processes — it’s the processes which matter.
Any process you create needs to focus on daily targets for your writing, and this is where apps can be immensely helpful.
How to meet your writing targets with Scrivener
I’ve been using Scrivener for a decade. To my own disgust, although I knew that Scrivener had this functionality, I never made setting project targets and deadlines part of my daily Scrivener processes. Hubris, I think — I didn’t want an app telling me what to do. I knew how much I had to write each day. I didn’t need a target nagging at me from my computer screen.
I was wrong.
One day when I was working on a project, and knew that I had around a thousand words left to write on the project that day. Rather than jotting my word count target on a sticky note, I opened Show Project Targets from the Project menu in Scrivener. I set a overall target for the project, and a deadline for the project’s completion. Happy days… I discovered that I only need to write 500 words that day to complete the project by my deadline.
That was a revelation, and I’ve been setting project targets in Scrivener ever since.
When you’re working on a long project like a book, whether it’s for yourself, or for a client, seeing a visual display of the words you’ve written that day, and in the entire project, with colored bars, makes all the difference.
You’ll watch the bar showing a slim red line when you start writing for the day. As you add more words, the bar turns orange, and then… saints be praised — green. And you’re done, for that day.
How to meet your writing targets with Ulysses
I looked on Ulysses as a “almost Scrivener” for years. That changed with Ulysses’ last major update. Ulysses blossomed into a writing app which saves me time and energy every day… it definitely helps me to increase my income.
Ulysses has an iPad app (there’s now one for your iPhone too), and it’s eminently usable. It’s also ideal for me because I love Markdown.
Thanks to Markdown, you can write something in Ulysses, and at a click, send it to HTML, plain text, ePub, DOCX, and PDF. Write once, publish everywhere. What’s not to like about that? 🙂
Ulysses is my everyday essential, for all shorter projects. I still write all longer projects like books in Scrivener. Partly that’s habit. I know that you can write longer projects in Ulysses, but I’m simply more comfortable in Scrivener.
Here’s how to set your writing targets in Ulysses. Click on the paperclip icon in the toolbar. When it opens, click the circular Add Goal icon, and set your target.
Tip: you can “tear off” the goals module (and the other modules) — just click the tiny duplicate icon in the corner of the module.
Your target circle starts off blue, then tuns green as you write more words.
By the way, are you a Windows user? If so, you can use Ulysses on your iPhone and iPad.
If you’re looking for a Windows desktop alternative, there are many Windows “markdown” apps. Look for a markdown app which lets you set goals and targets.
Tips for setting writing goals and targets
Here are some tips I hope you’ll find useful.
- Set a goal — any goal — with a deadline. Life happens. Barring natural and personal disasters, life shouldn’t get in the way of your writing. Setting deadlines ensures that you know how many words are due, and when.
- Change deadlines as needed. If a specific project suddenly requires 60% of your attention, adjust the deadlines of other projects as needed. Remember to inform your clients of any changes in their deadlines.
- You have more time than you think you do. Keep a time log for a week, to see where your time goes.
- Track your writing on projects so that you improve your estimates of how long a project will take. Once you know roughly how long it takes you to write a Web page, or a short story, you can schedule projects more efficiently. This helps not only with pricing your writing services, it keeps clients happy too.
- Use the cloud, so that you can write anywhere. I get more words written because I use apps which are cloud-enabled. I save my writing in Scrivener to a cloud service. (FYI, Box and Dropbox.)
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