How to set a realistic writing target.

I made the mistake in thinking I could write five thousand words a day, each and every day when I was first starting out. An average romance novel is between 50,000 and 60,000 words, so that would only take me 10 to 12 days to write a book? How hard can that be? I could churn them out. A new book a month. I’d blitz the best seller lists. My web page would put kindle to shame.

Boy, was I in for a rude shock.

I wanted to write all day and bang out ten thousand words, but I couldn’t. I was no-where even close. After about half an hour I wasn’t able to keep that level of concentration up. Writing is pretty brain intensive stuff. I’d started at the wrong end of the equation. I was trying to start at a place that I could only reach if I’d been writing for a whole lot longer than I had.

I had to reduce my targets to be able to start in a frame that I could cope with. Don’t make the same mistake I did. You have to lead up to bigger things by starting small. Baby-steps.

For example, if you’re learning how to cook, you wouldn’t want to try a dessert they make contestants cook on MasterChef. There’s no way in the world a beginner could do that. I wouldn’t want to do that now and I’ve been cooking for twenty years! (OK – it’s a fact, I hate cooking. It’s up there with washing the floor.) But you get my drift. No, you’d cook porridge, or make an omelette, maybe bacon and eggs on toast.

It’s the same with writing. Trial out fifteen minutes a day at first. You might find that is enough, or not enough. You may only have fifteen minutes in your day to write. Squeezing a little bit of time out of your day to start is easier and achievable. You’ll feel motivated to write tomorrow for another fifteen minutes. The day after that and after that because it won’t be all too much at the start.

If you find fifteen minutes isn’t enough, or you need more time, then give yourself more time. A starting point is going to be different for everyone. Adjust where you want to. It’s your day. But don’t overdo it at the beginning. Be realistic.

You’ll have to practice every day to be able to increase your time writing or your word count. There are very few of us who are writing savants. Most authors are hard workers, who have spent hours/days/years honing their craft. Hey – I hope you’re the exception, but the truth was, as much as I love writing, I was pretty crap at it at first. My point, however, is that authors got to where they are by doing a little bit every day.

If you can hone that fifteen minutes a day, do that for a week. (Take Sunday off, I’ll look out for you!) AND, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. This is meant to fun! So treat it like it is fun. Don’t think about it being fifteen minutes of hard labour. Experience your fifteen minutes until you feel, and be honest with yourself here, that you really and truly want to spend more time writing.

For a person starting out, spending time writing every day is hard. It was hard for me, why wouldn’t it be hard for another person. I’m not anyone different to anyone else. But, as I got going more and more, I spent more and more time writing until I could go for two hours before I felt the need to come for air. Small steps. Little bites. They all become bigger.

When you set short, clearly-defined smaller goals as a part of your larger goal, you can take pride in what you’ve achieved and see a forward progression in writing your book. A paragraph written is still a paragraph you didn’t have before, and a paragraph is a part of your future book. You’ll become more confident, quicker, gain more competence, gain skills that you didn’t have before and you will end up completing that book.

[more to come]

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