Writing Goals

They’re everywhere. There’s no escaping them. 500 words. 1000 words. 739 words. An hour. Five hours. Eight hours, with seven-minute breaks every 43 minutes.

Writing goals are a great thing for many authors, it seems. Unfortunately, when I sit down with a word-count goal in mind, I tend to sit and stare at the word count in the lower left-hand corner of the screen the entire time I’m writing. When I sit down with a time goal, I stare at the clock in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

I’ve learned it’s better for me to just not go down that path.

But that doesn’t mean I’m without goals. There is one overarching goal that encompasses my entire writing philosophy:

Write every day.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 1000 words or 10. It doesn’t matter if it’s the manuscript I’m supposed to be working on, a flash of inspiration for a new story, or a project that’s been simmering on the back burner for a while. If I open a Word document and type something, I’ve filled my goal for the day.

It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes. There are times that I don’t feel super inspired, but I’ll start working and the words come pouring out. Then again, there are times that I don’t feel super inspired and I get maybe two sentences on the page. But that’s still two sentences more than I had the day before.

The only way to finish writing a novel is to get the words onto the page one by one, and that’s never going to happen unless you are diligent about sitting down to work regularly. The effort of writing daily will not only get those words on the page, it will also make the words better, smoother, tighter. With practice, writing rises in quality and efficiency.

With all the goal-setting rage that comes with the new year, find the writing goal that works for you, be it simple or complex, lax or stringent. Then go forth and tackle your writing endeavors with spirit!

What are some of your writing goals? Do you stick to them strictly or give yourself some wiggle room?

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11 Comments

  1. For a long time I read a lot of writers’ blogs and interviews searching for the secret answer to finishing a novel. Finally I took all of those successful writers at their word – the only way to finish a project is to write it. And to write every day.

  2. Each day, every day we must carve out a little time to write. Each time we write it carries us to the next day. It appears that my time to write is in the late hours of night. My daughter has been asleep. My wife has fallen asleep and I come out to write. The latest thing I have done is to talk to my voice memo app on the way home from work. Forty-five minutes is a long drive and an entire short story can be filled out. Then I come back over the next few hours, complete and then share.

  3. I rarely keep writing goals because, like New Year resolutions, I never end up keeping them. I work best with external deadlines and wee bit of pressure, but when it comes from me, I just don’t care. Or, I’ll expect way too much out of my time and opportunity and I get nothing done. Or I get distracted. I just tell myself to sit down and write and whatever comes out is what was meant to. Whether it’s junk or the golden goose, it’s still a learning experience and will press me towards my ultimate goal of publication.

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