Last week I wrote about routines, and how it’s very easy to fall away from them but not so easy to get back into them. One way to return to a writing routine is to set yourself a word or page goal for each day. If you’re working toward a definite limit for the day, it is likely to push you forward and help you sit down each day.
Start with a low number and then increase the goal bit by bit as you feel more comfortable with your writing routine. You’ll probably find that when you sit down to write toward a certain number of words or pages, you’ll get so wrapped up in writing that you’ll go beyond that limit. And if you don’t, don’t worry about it — at least you’re writing!
There are some websites that can help you maintain these word and page limits, such as 750 Words, which sends you an email each day, prompting you to write your 750 words. It keeps track of your progress, congratulates you when you’ve written your words for the day, and stores your words online. I’ve used this website in the past and have found it very helpful. After a while, though, it started to seem futile to me because I wasn’t writing toward anything. I’m sure that you could use the 750 words system to put words toward a larger project, but it is mostly meant for free-writing and pre-writing to get yourself warmed up to write.
Recently, there was a post on Writer Unboxed about writing two pages per day as your writing routine. Faced with the overwhelming task of writing a novel, author Yona Zeldis McDonough says that she “I broke down the task at hand into much more manageable chunks or bits. I told myself that I was writing a scene. A conversation. A description. And I gave myself a small, manageable goal: two pages a day, five days a week.”
Breaking down your writing task into small, manageable goals is a great technique for getting work done. Just make sure that you have a clear trajectory in mind and that you keep on writing!
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan