Writing Advice: Setting Daily Goals

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Today marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, which I already posted about a few weeks ago. Basically, those who undertake National Novel Writing Month in November set out to write 50,000 words in 30 days. The only possible way to accomplish this is to set a daily goal to carry you through the month. It has been calculated that participants in NaNoWriMo need to write 1,667 words each day. If you zoom out and get overwhelmed by the 50,000 word end product, it’s entirely understandable. But a small daily goal of 1,667 words is completely reasonable, completely manageable.

Even if you don’t have a large, long-term goal like in NaNoWriMo, daily goals are an excellent tool to use to simply get you writing. Oftentimes, it can be daunting to step back and look at how much you have to write and you can easily dig yourself a hole worrying about how you’re going to get all of it written. However, if you set a daily goal and you know that all you have to do in a day is write 1,000 words or even 500 words, everything seems smaller and more do-able. If you don’t feel overwhelmed as a writer, you’ll be more at ease and ready to sit down with a clear head to write.

Somewhat on the same issue and somewhat not, there was a post at Broomeshtick this morning about a system called ‘750 Words.’ ‘750 Words’ is sometimes also called ‘Morning Papers’ because you’re supposed to do the writing in the morning, at the beginning of your day, to get you jump-started. ‘Morning Papers‘ is a writing exercise, from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, that consists of writing three pages of stream of consciousness each morning to clear your head and get set to write. These ‘Morning Papers’ can include anything — absolutely anything — that comes into your mind. That way, those things won’t be in your mind while you’re trying to write your actual piece.

750 Words‘ is an actual website that allows you to write these ‘Morning Papers’ to clear your head. 750 is the equivalent of three pages, so it’s exactly the same as writing your ‘Morning Papers’ exercise, the only difference is that it’s online and you can store what you write and keep it as private as you like. It’s different from an online blog because you can keep what you write private and you’re not writing for anyone else, you’re simply writing for yourself to get what Peter Elbow calls “trash” out of your head.

So — what kinds of daily goals do you set for yourself in your own writing? Do daily goals help you or hinder you? What do you think about ‘Morning Papers’ or the ‘750 Words‘ website? Let us know in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

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