How to Set Reasonable Word Count Targets for Your Writing
If you’re anything like me, you tend to be a little ambitious with your word count targets. Often, you wake up in the morning and think, “It’s going to be a 5000-word day.” Then by the time your writing session is over, you’ve got maybe 500 words on the page and you’re thinking, “What the heck?”
Earlier this year, I decided I was going to write an average of 1,000 words per day for a beautiful grand total of 365,000 words. My plan was to write quality words for fiction rather than focus purely on quantity, and that would allow me to produce better first drafts.
This goal is definitely achievable. But by the time I started with the goal, I was already 30,000 words behind. A few other things popped up and I derailed even further. Now, in order to reach my goal by December 31st, I have to write an average of almost 2,800 words every day. Still not impossible, and I’ll do my best to get as far as I can, but at this point, I won’t be upset if I don’t reach it because already this is the most novel writing I’ve done in a single year.
Next year, I may plan for the same goal, but now I have a better idea of what I need to keep myself going and meeting that daily average.
Setting a realistic word count target is important for building momentum and feeling good about our writing progress. If we’re constantly striving for targets that are unrealistic (based on actual output and performance), then it’s going to be tough to stay motivated. Eventually, we’ll feel like a failure and start to wonder what the point is when we can never meet the goal.
The key to setting reasonable word count targets is starting small.
Make your word count targets ones you can easily achieve every day.
If you’ve been struggling to get any writing done, instead of planning to write 5,000 words today just to make up for your lack of progress, start small. Plan on writing a minimum of 100 words or 250 words every single day.
If, after meeting your minimum, you’re feeling good and you have the time, write more. Go until you’re ready to stop. Then the next day, get your minimum done. Every day, write your minimum. You’ll build far more momentum this way than you will with planning to write 5,000 words in one day.
After you’ve been reaching your goal for a couple weeks and gotten used to the writing routine, consider increasing the target a little. If you’re finding it easy to meet your new target, consider increasing it again. But don’t go too far. Your daily minimum word count target should be something you can achieve. Anything over your target is a bonus.
Next week, I’ll share another tip on how you can keep the momentum going. Stay tuned!