In this blog post I will share a couple of helpful strategies for setting your personal writing goals.
First, let’s start off by realizing that no goal is too minuscule. You might have seen writers on the web bragging that they write over 10, 000 words a day, a first draft in under a week and are able to bring out a book every month.
Don’t despair when you see series where one book is published each month. You don’t know how many people are working on the series, how many plots have been pre-outlined and how many years of writing experience the author(s) have underneath their belt(s).
The writing mind is a muscle just as much as your biceps or quadriceps. Surely, you wouldn’t wake up one day and decide that today you were to lift three hundred pounds or run a marathon.
No, you would start small, building up your endurance over months and years. You would slowly hone your technique increasing the time and difficulty of each exercise.
The same holds true for writing. Just because you have realized that to be a writer is your dream, you can’t expect to fulfill this dream tomorrow.
If you set unrealistically high goals you will fail and end up discouraged.
So how can you set achievable and motivational writing goals?
Start by gaining an understanding of how long you can write before you have to take a break. Be honest. Don’t push yourself too hard. Try it out. Set your watch, start writing and stop when you get fatigued. Note down how much time has passed and how many words you were able to put on a blank page.
Let’s say for example that you managed to write 500 words in 30 minutes before you get fatigued, distracted, etc.
That is your session. 30 minutes long with the goal to put 500 words on paper.
Ask yourself how often you could realistically schedule these sessions weekly. Perhaps you could do one every day or maybe you could do two of these on each day of the weekend? Again be honest with yourself.
Next decide how many words your novel will have (depending on the genre traditionally 60-80 thousand words is a good starting point) and how many chapters. Ultimately you don’t have to make each chapter of the same length, but it is a great starting point.
Let’s assume you want to write a novel with 70,000 words and 40 Chapters.
70,00: 40= 1,750
Thus, 1,750 is the magic word count you’re aiming for in each chapter.
Earlier we assumed that in each session you would write 500 words, meaning that you would need 3.5 sessions to write one chapter.
If you can do 7 sessions weekly that means that you will be able to write 2 chapters each week and your first draft will be done in 5 months. Now that might sound like a long time but it is better than cutting sleep for a week to write and then giving up the following week because you can’t manage.
I also recommend that you keep a diary to track your weekly progress. Once you feel comfortable with your current goals you can begin to slowly expand them. You could either extend the time of your sessions, their frequency or attempt to write more words in one session.
Most importantly don’t get too frustrated if you are currently writing too slowly for your taste. If you stick with it, the writing process will get easier with each month and novel.
To recap, set realistic goals. Decide how many words you want to write per session, how long each session will be and how many sessions you will have weekly. Based on that calculate how long it will take you to write a chapter and your first draft. Keep track of your progress in a diary for accountability and to see your progress outlined in black and white.