At this writing I am a few hundred words from a milestone on my latest manuscript. I hope to surpass the 30,000 word mark soon, and to be honest I have no projected final count on this story. Many writers I know set a goal for a book based upon what a publisher wants. Harlequin, for example, specifies minimums for their imprints. One requires no fewer than 70k, while some digital lines will go lower. I’m of the school that I’ll write until the story is told. Sometimes it happens after 20k, other times close to 70k.

As it stands, Finish What You Started (working title for my contemporary romance) could go as long as 50k, which would make it category or novella-length. It depends on who’s considering it for publication. I have a few houses in mind for it.

I’ll be honest, my life priorities present many obstacles when I decide to tackle a book. My day job, which I love, features a perpetual to-do list, and my schedule must accommodate school pick ups, laundry, etc. I try to save my personal writing time for night, and in our small home that means competing noises from the family and television distract me.

Nonetheless I surge forward, and like other authors I set gradual goals for myself as I work toward THE END. Right now, the goal is a thousand words a day – even if it’s the same word typed a thousand times out of frustration.

Recently my daughter received her Fall Product catalog from Girl Scouts, and she showed me the prize she wants to win by selling a certain amount of goods. It’s similar to the prize roster offered for cookies sales. Incentives. Get so many orders, get a prize.

I’ve used the incentive ploy while trying to finish a work, but typically when I get to a point where I’m not sure I want to keep going. I find I focus better knowing something nice waits for me at the end of a punctuation mark.

FallingInLoveAt the end of a writing day, regardless of whether or not I make the word count, I decompress with a round of Candy Crush. If I exceed the  daily goal, I play more than one round.

When I finish a dedicated scene in a book, that unlocks the Hulu achievement badge. I can then watch an episode of a show I’m currently bingeing.

When I complete a chapter, I get to watch a new Doctor Who or Downton Abbey episode.

When I finish a book, I usually take the remainder of the week off, relax with a book or two and get ice cream. A friend usually buys me a cigar when I type THE END, but that’s more a symbolic gesture. The first Cuban he buys me, I’ll smoke that.

After finishing Geek Meets Girl for the Falling in Love set, I got a latte from Starbucks. You might think, well you can get that any time, but I find going without a treat like that for a while, until you reach a goal, makes the reward all the sweeter. Once Finish What You Started is completed, I think that will be worth something. I’m thinking some of this artisan ice cream from Steve’s looks good. It should hold me until the next book.