I think it’s fair to say that for the past six months or so I’ve felt more consistently well than I have in a good while (*looks around for some wood to touch*). As a consequence, I’ve been able to raise my monthly writing target to around 20,000 words — and, it seems, meet it.Today I hit 18,000 words, with a few working days left in the month, and I’m really beginning to feel that I can keep this up for the full novel. It feels good and it got me thinking about writing targets and how vital they are to me. A few things occurred to me that might help new writers out there.
- It’s important to set targets that are realistic, but which stretch you a little. Five hundred words a month might be considered “realistic”, but at that rate it’ll take you something like ten years to write a short novel. Not good if you’re serious about getting published.
- Flexibility should be built into any routine you establish. Targets are there to be hit, but if your dog dies, a day off is permissible. Don’t turn into Jack Torrance in The Shining (that’s my job, Wendy!)
- Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month once a year because some website says you should is possibly a bad way of becoming a writer, for a number of reasons: a) 50,000 words isn’t a full-length novel. It just isn’t; b) For most people, 50,000 words in a month just isn’t a realistic target; and c) You should be aiming to write a little every day (or most days) of the year. That’s the most effective way of developing a voice. Crazy bursts of creativity might work later, once you really feel comfortable with your craft. Until then, steady as she goes.
- Enjoy! If you don’t enjoy writing, try this