Daily Writing Goals: Why Are They So (Bleeping) Difficult?

June 18, 2010

I have great admiration for all you writers out there who set daily write goals…and meet them.

Actually, by ‘admiration’ I mean ‘jealous’. Yes, I am jealous of you! You are making your #writegoals happen…while its taking me 10 years…and counting…to finish my novel…

It’s not for lack of trying. I have set daily writing goals in the past, but it’s never worked. I just end up feeling depressed and slightly insane…

Ahem…but enough about me. I do have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind, as to what is the secret of your success…?

Question #1: Do you cheat?
Come on. You can tell me the truth. You’re stuffing your writing with filler, aren’t you? Your using ‘very’, ‘really’, ‘quite’ and all the mixtures therein , like ‘really quite’ and ‘very, very,’ and ‘really very’…That’s how you’ve reached your daily 1000 word count goal, isn’t it? Because 867 are filler adverbs! And another 100 are where you just typed the same word over and over…!

Question #2: Where are you?
You must be some place where you get lots of quiet time & few distractions. Solitary confinement maybe. Or a Buddhist temple. A deserted island, right? That’s how you are able to block out all those intrusions of daily living so can focus and meet your goal…You’ve sealed yourself off. Just you and your laptop, living the dream, the writing la Vida Loca…

Question #3: What are you on and where can I get some?
Is there some kind of ‘Writer’s Rescue Remedy’ that I’m not aware of? Some herbal tea mix? Or maybe you’ve added something extra to your coffee, hmmm? There must be something making you so concentrated and verbose, so that you can whip those words off in such a scant time frame. Perhaps an old family secret passed down thru generations? Come on. You can tell me. I promise I won’t patent it and sell it to other writers…and make millions…heh, heh…

Ok, turning serious for a moment…

I know it isn’t an easy task for writers to set daily writing goals and keep them. It takes hard work, dedication, will power…it’s like any goal, from losing weight to saving money for a trip to Disneyland. You need to believe in your objective…and figure out a plan that works for you.

For myself, I finally got off my tush, stopped drifting and set myself a yearly goal…my novel is to be finished by June, 2011.

But to really make that happen, I think I need to:

1. Break that goal down into slightly smaller targets so it’s not so overwhelming. (I think I’ll aim for 3 month blocks…)

2. Set specific but realistic targets. (Let’s say 3 chapters in 3 months…that seems pretty realistic…and if I go over, I’m going to feel great!)

3. Picture the benefits. What is my payoff? I need to see it. Feel it. Taste it. Smell it. That’s going to keep me motivated. (I will get to revel in the  self-satisfaction of making my dream come true…plus I get to brag on Twitter and my blog…)

4. Start with where I’m at. A larger perspective is fine…but its still in ‘the future’. The real change happens in the present. Right now. So what do I need to do now? What is my next step? What can I reasonably accomplish this week? (Research the Ottoman Empire in 1813! Start that google search!)

5. ‘Know thyself’. I’ve just decided to admit it: I can’t do daily writing goals! They make me feel hemmed in and panicked. So I’m not going to do them! I need a broader time span, so I have flexibility and room to maneuver in case those ‘contingencies’ arise (like writer’s block rearing its ferocious head one afternoon, or having too many errands to run …or god forbid, my son actually flushes a toy car down the toilet…)

6. Proclaim it. Say it to someone, put it in your blog, put it on Twitter. For some reason, when you tell someone else this strengthens the commitment. Other people are watching. It’s like when you work out at home vs. going to an exercise class. At home, you might wimp out at 3 abdominal crunches…but in the exercise class you’re determined to do all of them because you’re not going to let them see you fail! (I’ve tweeted & blogged it and I’m also participating in @Arvael_oTierney weekly check in)

All right! I have now completed the 6 steps of my make-shift 6 step #writegoal plan. Now lets see if I can make it happen without adding adverb fillers, locking myself in the bathroom for all of eternity, or spiking my lemonade with some kind of homegrown Writer’s ginkgo biloba…


  1. When you find the “writer’s rescue remedy”, please share with us! I’ve always had a hard time with writing goals as well. My best writing occurs when I have a definite purpose for my writing, some kind of “deadline”, a quiet morning, and a cup of coffee. For me, keeping writing goals requires time to read (It always helps to read a lot of the genre I’m writing), a bit of gardening (time to think and reflect), and my writer’s notebook (a place to jot ideas here and there). I’ve tried number goals….didn’t work. I have had some success with time goals. We all have a different process and the trick is finding it (and superpowers)!

  2. Love this.

  3. Good list, both of them. 🙂

    I’ve learned I cannot do daily writing goals either. I have to set longer term goals. Whether it’s a year out or a week out.

    I finished my first novel by setting the goal of finishing it by my next birthday. It works!

  4. I am also no good with daily goals. So instead I do weekly goals and as long as I’m with in 20% of my goal, I am happy. 🙂 I always carry paper and pen so if I get an idea I can immediately write it down. And yes I have been known to stop in frozen foods and write.

  5. […] But I need to sit down with my planner and schedule the time or it will slip away.  I was reading this blog recently and it does seem a bold yet brilliant idea to make a public statement about writing – […]

  6. […] more practically: Do I need an outline? (tried that) Do I need a writing goal? (tried that) Do I need a deadline? (tried that too!) Or just to get my bum in my writing chair more often? (only […]

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