Setting Realistic Goals

“This weekend, I’ll revise my novel.”

Hold up; how long is this novel? How long is your weekend?

To revise a 75k novel in a two-day span is an unrealistic goal. You, my dear writer friend, are setting yourself up for failure. Even the best writers with sharp attention spans couldn’t do that feat, unless they’re also insomniacs.

Sure, you can read a 75k novel in two days, maybe even one, but revising and reading are not the same thing. Revising takes a lot longer – or it should.

How long should it take to revise a 75k novel? It’s hard to say. I took a week off from work during a quarter break, so I wouldn’t have work or homework, and I revised a 80k novel, but I did nothing else for those six days. I took breaks. Let me tell you, I pushed myself. I would have rather had two weeks to work on it, to move slower, to take my time while revising.

Don’t tell yourself that you will revise your entire novel in a small amount of time. Set smaller goals that you know you can reach, like the first five chapters of your novel. If you go over that goal, great, and if not, it’s alright. The world will not explode.

Know your strengths when it comes to writing. If I’m motivated, I can write about 20k a day (that’s pushing my limit). If I’m only semi-motivated (most of the time) I can write 10k a day, if I’ve got nothing else to do, like on a Saturday. So, if I can write 20k on a weekend, that’s my realistic goal. Right now, I don’t work on Fridays, but I still leave my goal at 20k. That way I still have time to do the other things in life, like dishes, laundry, video games, reading, and cleaning. (If I’ve worked that day, done homework, I might get a thousands words out, if I write at all.)

If your goal is 5k, that’s fine. 5k is better than 0. Maybe you’ve got a few minutes in the morning, or at lunch, or before you go to bed; maybe you write a few thousand words a week. That’s okay. It’s better than not writing at all. Eventually, your novel will get written, if only a little bit at a time. Brick by brick.

And, if it happens that when you go to write your brain feels like jelly, that’s okay. Jelly days happen. Take a break. If every day is a jelly-brain day…maybe you should see a doctor. Try a diet change. Exercise program. Happy pills.

Or, you can try to be like me: I don’t set writing goals. It feels too much like a deadline, and puts pressure on me. I don’t like that. I’m a free-flowing writer. I write when I can, when I feel like it, when the urge comes. Manuscripts get done when they get done. I revise at my own pace.

Don’t rush to write, to publish; take your time and enjoy the ride.

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