So, the first thing to do - a post-mortem (#4, mentioned in my deadline post). Let's ask some hard questions and figure out how to avoid my mistake in the future.
1. Does/Did this project have a plot/plot points/general plan?
I mentioned before that I had used Alexandra Sokoloff's book Screenwriting Tricks for Author's to plan this novel. I also mentioned that I am a bit of a plantser (cross between plotter and pantser). What this means is that I plotted out all of the major points in the story, but left the movement in between these points open. My challenge as a writer is to move the characters between the major plot points in a believeable way.
That being said, I grossly underestimated how much work it is to get characters from point A to point B without turning them into paper dolls and forcing them to just do what I say already! Their movements and decisions have to be believable, or all my work is for nothing.
I think this is a rookie mistake. Bottom line - I need to give myself more of a map or more time. I think which I choose depends on the project. If the deadline is external, then the map becomes necessary. If I have the luxury of time, them great. I can skimp a bit on the map.
2. Does/Did this project have main characters in place?
I also mentioned that I used Chuck Wendig's method of developing characters to assist in that. I answered the questions for each of my main characters. Secondary characters don't get that treatment and often I just name them randomly and move on. I may go back and fill in info for them if they turn into more than a one-off kind of character.
3. Does/Did this project have a word count goal (measurable & achievable)?
50,000 words (this was a goal and probably will end up longer). Measurable and achievable are important here as you set goals. This count was both. I still missed it, but I'll get to that in a second.
4. Does/Did this project have checkpoints (smaller goals)?
Here's where I think I went wrong. I had an overall word count goal of 50,000 words. I was able to figure out what I needed to write every day to meet that goal. For me, that meant writing 834 words every weekday for about 12 weeks. It's completely do-able on paper.
But, my schedule can be weird at times. Some days I may be able to squeeze in a couple of hours or more to write and I may knock out 3,000+ words in a day. Other days I may get no time to write. Zero word days are not abnormal around here. I just shrugged them off. No biggie, I'll make up the words on another day. Only, because I was only doing daily tracking I didn't necessarily make up the words. And I didn't realize how far behind I was until it was too late.
Solution: Weekly and monthly goals and tracking in addition to daily tracking.
Zero word days are going to be a reality, but I have to have a way to make sure that I make up the count and stay on track. By adding a weekly word goal and a monthly word goal I'll be able to catch deficiencies faster, before they become too overwhelming.
5. What role did/do distractions play in missing this goal?
Let's be honest for a second. This was a problem too. There's a million things competing for my attention online that can be way more fun than pushing through a sticky mess in my book.
Solution: I have Scrivener set to full-screen mode. Nothing else shows, although notifications will still pop up. This helps once I choose to open it! So, instead of mindlessly walking away from computer at the end of the day I plan to leave Scrivener open so that when I get on my computer the next day, my novel is what I see first thing. The idea here is to write first, browse later. I know I can't write for 8 hours straight. I have to break that up, but I can handle an hour or two and in that time I should be able to meet my daily goal. Then I can browse Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
The second part of that solution is to list everything that I need to do, daily, weekly, and monthly. If I want to tweet 20 times per month, then I can schedule some tweets in advance and meet that goal. If I am aiming for 3 blog posts per week then I need an editorial calendar and to work ahead - time that needs to be calendared separate from writing time. And so on.
Now that I've taken the time to evaluate what went wrong I can set new goals and plan accordingly.
Deadline 2.0 - October 31, 2015
Daily word goal - 417
Weekly - 2,085
August - 6,255 words (total count 33,790)
September - 8,340 words (total count 42,130)
October - 7,870 words (total count 50,000)
Meeting this goal means setting the book aside here, assuming that the plot has played out. If it has I will break from this and focus on book two for NaNoWriMo (means I have to pull double-duty in October - planning book 2 while writing book 1). If I need to continue working on this book, that will be my NaNo goal - finishing this work completely.
Editing commences in mid-January, with a goal of getting outside input in March. Would love to have it query ready by June 1, 2016. We'll see.