How to set a realistic writing target

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We have all read the importance of setting ourselves a writing target, but today I am thinking closely about the importance of making that target achievable.  Now that Nanowrimo is over for another year (got as far as signing up this year which is progress!!) it would be tempting to think that we could all churn out 50 000 a month, if only we could get up an hour earlier, or imprison the children for an hour or so every day.  Or, that most insidious of suggestions, relax our housekeeping standards a little.

Mmmm I have to say that I do not want to be the kind of writer who festers in her own dirty pajamas, surrounded by mouldy coffee cups and stinking piles of dirty laundry.  As a writer, I enjoy a tidy desk, and as a mother/wife, I enjoy a tidy home, so there is nothing for it but to try and find a way of having it all.  After all, isn’t that what we are all supposed to be able to do as women in the twenty-firsty centureee!

I considered going all manic and setting myself a mammoth target, piling out the first draft in six weeks max and then going into writers rehab but it just didn’t seem like fun to me.  I suppose it is a little bit like running.  Do you do the marathon approach and ‘train’ for it?  Or do you take a gentle jog every day?

To be honest, I know nothing about running because I am pretty sure that I am allergic to the mere idea of moving my body at speed, but as a writer, I can, of course imagine that the metaphor is somehow apt.

I knew that setting a word count target was important.  I also knew that it was impossible for me to write every day.

So here is what I did?

HOW TO SET A REALISTIC WRITING TARGET

1. Decide how many words you would like your novel to be roundabouts.  I chose 100 000 words because it seemed like a nice round number and is about the average wordcount for a decent novel.

2. Decide when you would like to complete your first draft.  I decided that 16 weeks was a good aim.

3.  Divide the figure from 1 by the number of weeks that you have set as your timeframe (2).  In my case that is 6250 words per week.

4. Divide the figure from 3 by 6.  This gives you a day off for good behaviour.  That gives me a writing target of 1042 words per day.  Which I have to say is totally doable.

5.  Create a pretty chart on which you can colour in the columns for each day.  I even set little smaller targets of 250 word increments. When I have written 250 words, I colour in that day up to that number and so on.

6. Buy yourself some gold stars.  When you hit your target for the day, give yourself a gold star on that column.

7.  When you have got five gold stars, give yourself a little treat.  Because you are so worth it, Beautiful!

So there you have it, my handy guide to setting realistic word targets.  16 weeks is like four months.  If you need longer, go for it.

Because you can do this.  And you know it.

How do you motivate yourself to hit a word target in your writing?  All tips gratefully received.  Leave a comment below….

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One thought on “How to set a realistic writing target

  1. Pingback: Write every day but set yourself a limit | Juliette Nolan

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