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, and what colour – black, green, blue, turquoise, or something crazy, or a pencil, an ordinary pencil or a propelling pencil, or writing on an old-fashioned type-writer, or a PC… or tablet, phone, or dictates and records…
- 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. However… however, I don’t generally set targets; I get up I write, I stop when I want to reconsider what I’ve written, – or want a cup of coffee or tea, – or am in a muddle, – or have got a bit lost in where I’m supposed to be going, – or have run out of writing energy… etc… and I have to say that this 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 target 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 exhilaration when it’s done, and my stamina has improved, it’s not something I want to do as an everyday writer, even setting a lower target, once I get back to ‘normal’.
Maybe I’m just a bit eccentric and stubborn – because I do see the point and value of daily or weekly writing targets, and would recommend them to other people. Some writers even put up their daily totals on Facebook or Twitter…
So, instead of something so inflexible, how about this:
- work out my priority for the year, or the next twelve months, or set a different time-scale
- set realistic targets (this gives me a little shudder of memory as I think about SMART targets which we were always supposed to set when I was at work, and usually forgot and never reached (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, timed)
- keep track of what I’m doing – pretty impossible I think
- assess whether what I’m doing is getting where I want to be
Actually, I think even if I do make myself a set of rules/targets, I won’t keep to them… absent-mindedly rebellious!