Targets, targets, writing targets…

I wrote this for another blog, a writing blog I co-write with friends:

It’s probably true that every one who writes, writes in a different way –

Tools – whether it is on paper, with a ball point, rollerball,  or a fountain pen,  whatever colour black, green, blue, turquoise, or something crazy, or whether you uses a pencil,  a propelling pencil, writing on an old-fashioned type-writer, or a PC… or any modern device, or use a dictaphone…

Setting – at a desk, at a table, on a stool, a chair, standing up, writing with your pad/laptop/whatever on your knee,  anywhere in the house, in a particular room, in a studio or shed, in a local café or a pub or on a bench in the park…

Targets – a poem a day, a page a day, a chapter a day, so many words a day, writing until inspiration comes to a full stop or you fall asleep…

Thinking about targets, it’s useful sometimes to step back and think and consider and wonder if you should set targets if you don’t, or maybe think of different targets if you already do.

I don’t generally set targets; I get up I write, I stop when I want to reconsider what I’ve written,, want a cup of coffee or tea, am in a muddle, have got a bit lost in where I’m supposed to be going, have run out of writing energy… etc. and that works for me.

However over the last few years, the last four in fact, in the month of November all changes as I have taken up the challenge of writing the beginning of a new novel in the month of November, 50,000 words of it, as part of the National Novel Writing Month.  50,000 words works out as about 1670 words a day – although because it is a monthly target, if you miss a day then the daily rate goes up! last year I got off to a very slow start for various reasons and it was a battle towards the end as the daily number kept rising!

This annual race to beat the word count is very stimulating, it really improves my writing fitness and makes me focus more on writing and not faff about and get distracted – but it’s exhausting! Although there is an exhilaration when it’s done, and my stamina has improved, it’s not something I want to do, even at a lower target, once I get back to ‘normal’.

Maybe I’m just a bit eccentric and stubborn in not setting personal targets for myself – because I do see the point and value of daily or weekly writing targets, and would recommend them to other people.

How about this:

  • work out your priority for the year/month/day (or maybe set your own different time-scale)
  • set realistic targets – for you personally
  • keep track of what you’re doing – much easier these days with WPCs
  • assess whether meeting your target is getting you closer to your goal – have a time of reflecting on where you are actually going, and whether you are going in the right direction

Here are some interesting ideas which go a little further than just thinking about specifics:

  1. Write every day
  2. Carve out a time and place for writing.
  3. Treat writing your book as work.
  4. Write as many words as possible
  5. Do not read back anything you’ve written
  6. You are not allowed to edit your first draft
  7. Give yourself a break
  8. Don’t talk about or let anyone read your book, until its finished

… and you can read much more about these eight suggestions here:

Meanwhile, I’m just going to have a drink, have a think, and then get back to my writing… in the way that works for me – and isn’t that the essence? Write the way which best works for you – and if it doesn’t work, then look at the helpful suggestions others can give you!

If you want to see what I have written, here is a link to my books:

… and here is a link to our other blog:

One Comment

  1. David Lewis

    It sounds like working on an assembly line to me. Then again the only thing I’ve written lately is a shopping list! Have great crazy dreams every night and wake up remembering them. Should try writing them down.


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