Setting a daily writing goal is a great way to keep yourself writing and form a habit, however it can be a tricky thing to decide. Here are some things you should consider.
I don’t know about you, but when I choose a daily goal I tend to meet it but never surpass it. If I aim for 1k then that’s how much I’ll write but what if I aimed slightly higher, say 1.5k. It isn’t that much more so I’d probably still be able to make it right? That is the sort of mind set that will keep you writing more and more. I’m not saying you should aim for 10k right off the bat, a number that large could deter you from writing. However you should take into account how much you can write when you push yourself. I’ve been known to get up to 4k some days, but only if I aim that high. If you slowly increase your word goal then you can end up writing more without it seeming like you are.
Priorities in Check
I’m not a professional author, and even if I was I would still have other priorities to handle than writing. There are some things like school, family commitments and work that I’m going to have to fit in with writing. Some days you’ll have hours of spare time to write and others you’ll have barely any time. Your daily word goal needs to reflect that. If you have hours to spare one day take advantage of it and increase your goal, if you’re pushed for time then decrease your goal for the day. I’m not saying use other commitments as an excuse from writing, just be wary not to over stretch yourself. You have to be aware of how much time you have to write, and how much is a reasonable amount to expect from yourself in that time based on your average words per hour.
I know that when I first started writing I had a much smaller goal. If I wrote 300 words in a day I would be happy, it was a struggle to get that far. Now things are different, I can make it to 700 words without flinching, get to 1.5k without breaking a sweat, some days I even make it to 2k and still feel like I haven’t challenged myself. Your writing goal is going to change as you become more experienced and that means if it’s lower now than you’d like don’t beat yourself up over it. You’ll get there eventually. I look at the people who write 10k in a day with awe and horror. I have no idea how they do it, but maybe one day I’ll become one of those people. There’s always going to be someone writing more than you, but at least you can say that you’re writing. There are many people out there who aren’t.
I’m the sort of person who needs time to mull over where my plot is going, and although being pushed to write more than what I have planned leads to some gems it can also go too far. I’ll get to the point where my writing is something along the lines of:
Harry walked over to the fridge and got dinner. He ate it, he went to bed. The next day Harry woke up and was excited for the day to come. He went to work on the train. It was raining.
See how boring that is? There is so much I could do with that, but if it reaches the point where I’m burnt out and don’t want to write anymore then that’s what happens.
Everyone has a limit and while for some people it’s quite high for others it’s quite low. I have written over 10k in the past three days which is a massive achievement for me, however my goal was 12k. I started to burn out, and ended up being happy where I got to and giving up. It doesn’t help that my draft is starting to wrap up so there aren’t many exciting scenes left to write. Be wary of how much writing would burn you out and take time to recover, for me that means watching heaps of movies and taking my dog for a walk. Find out what it means for you.