I’ve had debates with other writers about the value of setting daily writing goals. I know every writer is different, but I find daily goals valuable because they give me something to strive for every day, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a goal-oriented person. For me, the primary reason for a daily goal was to reinforce the importance of writing consistently, even during those time when inspiration might be lacking, or I might be tired, or I might want to do something else for whatever reason. If I want to eventually write fiction for a living, I need to treat writing as a job (albeit an enjoyable one) and not a simple hobby. That means showing up for work every day.
Since this was the first year I set a daily writing goal for myself, I set a modest target of 500 words. I still hold down a full-time, non-writing job, so my time to write is limited. I thought about setting a minimum time spent writing, but I decided that my goal was “words on paper” and not time spent writing.
After six months, this approach has worked well. I’ve written or edited nearly 125,000 words in six months, equating to twelve short stories and dozens of story critiques for fellow writers. This pace puts me well ahead of my 500-word-per-day goal. In terms of getting the consistency I mentioned above, I’ve reached my daily goal on about 90% of the days.
So what has this all done for me?
By any measure, I’ve had my most productive six months of writing in my life. I’ve written and sold (to good markets) more stories than ever before. I attribute this directly to my daily writing target. Maybe next year I will up my words-per-day by a few hundred—imagine what I might accomplish then.