While I’m not a fan of the term ‘bucket list’ (a reminder of all we’d like to accomplish in life before we ‘kick the bucket’), I do like the focus it provides in goal setting and attaining.
For instance, you might have a blog. But what are your goals for it? To write X articles a month? To generate Y dollars in ads? Or (most likely) a combination of both? And if no goal, where then is the focus to accomplish it?
For example, I recently got it into my head to total all the words I’ve written over the years. Not just any words, but paid words, words that made me money, like books, reports, columns, etc. One bucket item of mine is to reach 1,000,000 of these paid words. I’m still counting up articles, but so far I’m creeping in on 750,000. Perhaps I’ve actually crossed the one million mark, if I included client support emails and report revisions (after all, items like my WordPress book actually started as an online report I revised almost yearly), but I decided to include only for-money writing, and just final editions.
But that’s me – what should YOU do if you want a million word blog, or book career, or lots of writing in general?
- Set a Goal. For example, if your blogging goal is to hit one million words, then just do the math: 200 posts a year (roughly every day except weekends or holidays) at 1,000 words each will get you to your goal in five years. But why 1,000,000? Aim instead for 200 posts at only 500 words each, and in a single year you’ll have a 100,000 word blog – a very substantial number for any site (to give you an example, UtopiaMechanicus.com is creeping up on the 100k mark, and it’s been up since 2005).
- Start Tracking. In my case, I find this word tally much more satisfying than I expected. I knew I wrote a lot but to have it as a quantifiable number is informative. I only wish I had kept totals earlier – so don’t make my mistake, and set up a spreadsheet to list totals today.
- Define It. If you’re satisfied with any writing you do, track that; if it has to be paid writing, then be sure to track only that. Books only? Track away. And so on. Ultimately, the goal is for you – to spur you on in that direction – so pick the goal that seems most satisfying. In my case, if I had included every bit of writing, including revisions, I’d have already crossed the million word mark, but in my head it would have always been a statistic with a qualifying asterisk beside it, the kind where you need to explain yourself. Pick a standard you like so there’s no need to qualify it.
- Automate. I’ve already mentioned setting up a spreadsheet. For anything you write in a Word Processor, use its Word Count feature (for example, in Open Office use the File; Properties; Number of Words option to view the count). And if you plan to do something with your blogs, then use a plugin. One plugin for WordPress blogs I recommend is Word Stats. You don’t have to leave it on for simple totals (I turn it on, check the Dashboard; Word Stats submenu section for my tally, and then deactivate it), but it is a great plugin for overall stats as well. In fact, you can also display counts on your blog to help spur yourself on if you wish.
Not everyone desires a goal of writing. And few people need (or care) about a million words written over their life. Everyone’s bucket list is unique to them. However, if you are interested in writing, seriously consider setting up a goal and tracking it in some way. Be it a bucket list, a vision board, or some form of daily affirmation, we tend to keep in mind things that, well, we are keeping in mind. After all, goals are attained most often by focus, not by ignoring them and ‘hoping’ they will happen someday.