Writing Goals: Be More Productive, Try Low Word Counts

Do you set writing goals? A friend told me recently that she’d given up on her novel: “It’s too hard. My parents are staying with us for a few weeks, and I haven’t got time to write, it’s impossible.”

It reminded me of a writers’ group meeting discussing productivity. I found my notes.

This tip might help you if you’re struggling with a writing project. Try setting low word count targets for each day.

Set a writing goal: aim low and hit your target

From Angela Booth’s Top 70 Writing Tips:

When you start a project, set your daily word count low. Try for 100 words, or even just 50.

This is because starting is hard. It’s especially hard if you know you have 100,000 words to write. If you aim for a high word count in the first weeks, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

This works for me. My current side hustle is ghostwriting a novel. Although I enjoy it, it’s a big challenge. I write at night, and occasionally, I’m so tired my head nods lower and lower.

My initial goal was 500 words daily, writing during my lunch hour and in the evenings. However, that stressed me. After the chat with my friend, I set the word count to just 200 words.

When you set a low goal, surpassing it gives you confidence

The 200 words were easy—I wrote them before I went to work, and found myself writing another 200 words at lunch, then 200 more at night.

What made the difference? Why did I manage 600 words easily that day?

Maybe the difference was confidence. The low writing goal was so low, I knew I could do it.

When I chatted with my friend, she had a similar experience. She said she aimed for 50 words. “I wrote that on my phone, while I was cooking. So, the next day, I wrote 100 words in the carpark before work, and another 200 words while watching a movie with the family.”

She’s pleased that she’s managing to keep writing, even if she has “no time.”

What about you? Will you try this simple strategy?

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