Setting Goals But Never Reaching Them

Stephen King says he writes 2000 words a day, no less, no more, no matter what. Walter B. Gibson in the 1930s and 40s wrote 15,000 words a day for The Shadow pulp magazine. Setting goals in writing is a great way to get things done.

I have tried many different methods of writing: simple outlining, in depth outlining, seat of your pants writing, and so on. But I never really got much writing done. In writing forums online and in writing books almost everyone says that the best way to write is just that: write. By writing every single day, lets say 2000 words each day, you can finish the first draft of an entire novel in about three months. Using my I-don't-feel-like-it-today-but-the-next-day-I-write-like-5000-words method, I have never finished an entire first draft. After a year I get stuck at 40,000, which is the farthest I've ever gotten, though it's technically finished; it has a beginning, middle, and end, fully developed characters, and all those other things you need in order to have a completed novel. No matter what I do, I always end up with a novella-length draft that's just the bare bones of a novel, and then I get sick of spending so much time on it and move onto something new.

This happened to me three times before I decided to do something about it. Starting with my most recent project, I decided to write 2000 words every day, and I would finish the entire first draft by the end of October. So far, it hasn't really worked because I keep falling back into my old pattern, which wasn't really a pattern at all. Now I have two chapters left, and it's only 40K. Well there are still 11 days left in October.

I wanted to finish by the end of October because in November, I am planning on participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I've never written a novel 50,000 words long, let alone in only one month, so this is bound to be a challenge. I am going to take this challenge and try my hardest to do it the best I can. I have the time and I have the inspiration, but I'm not sure I have the will.

Setting goals in writing is the best way to write. If you have to goal (word count or time frame) in mind, then you'll probably never finish. However, you must also have the perseverance, the thing that I presently do not have, and reach your goal. Hopefully I will finish my first draft by the end of October, though it definitely will not be 72K, which was my goal. It will probably only be 50,000, but I can always edit later, after November. Wish me luck, and good luck to you, my writing friends!

NaNoWriMo website

Peace, Aimee


  1. I have the same problem but I don't even get to 40,000. My ideas tend to turn into short stories and sometimes even vignettes.

    I have tried participating in NaNoWriMo but never make the word count. I'm looking around at writer's blogs for ideas. Thanks for yours. I'm just going to write.

  2. Chary, my stories are too long to be short stories but too short to be novellas! Good luck with NaNoWriMo this year.

  3. Best of luck with the NaNoWriMo. have you decided on your story line?
    If you need someone to line edit as you go, let me know. I'm not taking part in NaNo(busy with edit notes), but I spare a bit of time if needed.

    Write like the wind!


  4. Thanks Doug! I haven't decided on a storyline quite yet, but I have a few ideas that have been stewing in my brain for some time. I think my NaNo story is going suck since I'll be writing so quickly and hastily, and I would definitely edit it before I send it to someone to read. But if you are interested in line editing something, I will be done with my other story by the end of October, like I said in the blog.
    Thanks for the comment, and good luck o you too with your writing.

  5. Same thing with me. I actually just finished my first novel! Big feat for me, since I usually get discouraged and abandon one idea for another. As tempting as it was this time I forced myself to write and if I wasn't feeling inspired or couldn't think of what should come next I would take some time off until I figured it out.

  6. Don't give up. It took me three years(!) to complete my first draft. At 150,000 words, that averaged about a hundred or so words a day. Maybe you're like me, and you agonize over every word, trying to get it just perfect. Quite often, I'd be on a tear, then I'd get stuck on a word and spend the next hour or so digging through every physical and online thesaurus I could find looking for the right word, totally killing my rhythm.

    Daily word quotas can help, but remember, your goal isn't word counts, your goal is a completed novel. As long as your still writing, you're still on your way.

    Good luck with NaNo!


  7. Monica, congrats on finishing your novel! Good luck on editing. :)

    Dan, that is exactly what I do. I edit as I go, so it takes forever to finish something. 150K is really long! That's almost two novels in one!