‘They’ tell you that writers should set targets/goals for themselves but I’ll start by saying that I don’t usually set them.
I’m aware that many writers decide on word-count or page-count goals - it might be 500 or it might be 1,000 words a day, or it might be a certain number of pages, or a chapter per week, etc.
What, I wonder, happens when they don’t achieve their goal? Do they feel guilty or frustrated? Do they feel pressured to achieve that magic number of words or pages? Is their writing dictated by the goal rather than by what they’re actually writing? In other words, does the goal become more important than the story? And, maybe the most important point, are they concentrating more on quantity than on quality?
Writing 5,000 words a day means you could complete a 75,000 word novel in 15 days. Even 1,000 words a day would complete it in just over a couple of months. Nice idea! But I can’t work like that. Although I took part in NaNoWri Mo a few years ago and completed the ‘goal’ of 50,000 words in a month, I was very aware of how the quality of my writing deteriorated. That story needed about 6 months of re-writing and editing before it was ready for submission.
At the moment, I am revising/polishing/editing my WIP. I started on November 1st and decided I would try to complete one chapter a day. Already I have ‘failed’. It’s November 11th and I’m still on Chapter 8.
But have I really ‘failed’? Okay, I’ve not met my self-imposed target, but I think my overall goal is more important – which is to write the best story I can. Maybe that’s not a ‘measurable’ goal as such - except I think I CAN measure it. I’m my own worst critic. I know when I’ve achieved what I want to achieve, whether it's an emotional experience, a build-up of suspense/tension, or simply a word picture of a scene. I know, too, when something doesn’t ring true and then I work at it until I’m satisfied with it. Sometimes I can write 1,000 words in a day; sometimes I’ll agonise over just 50 words. Last night, I struggled for over 3 hours to rewrite the start of a chapter, all 193 words of it!
I once read: For a writer, ‘that’ll do’ is not an option. Maybe my goal is never to say ‘That’ll do.’
I’ll be interested to hear of the goals you set for yourself.