Why do we set goals?

It’s so we can have something to strive for, something that makes us feel like we are making progress. Particularly for a writer, it’s important. We can labour for ten years on a manuscript that never sees the light of day, that never even lands on a publisher’s desk let alone a book shelf. So we need to have something for us to measure what we have achieved during the process, to reassure ourselves that it has not been a waste of time. We need to identify and celebrate the steps we have taken along the way.

I know I’ve talked about writing goals before but seeing as many of us are in the midst of NaNoWriMo, a massive goal for writers, I wanted to reflect on the topic again.

For a writer, it’s hard to find the balance between goals that offer incentive and ones that provide too much pressure. For some people, for whatever reason, NaNoWriMo is too much pressure. 1667 words a day for 30 days is a lot of pressure. It means if you don’t write for one day, you have to write over 3000 words the next day to catch up.

It’s okay to say to yourself, “50,o0o word NaNo for me this year is an unachievable goal. So what can I achieve instead?”

I’ve had two days already where I didn’t write. I thought I would never catch up. I thought, what if I don’t finish the 50,000 words for November? That’s when I realised that while it’s an admirable goal, the sky won’t fall in if I don’t achieve it.

That’s when I realised that for me, the real NaNoWriMo goal is not about numbers or word counts.
NaNoWriMo is to get people to write, to get writers back into the habit of writing, to develop writing routines. So if that’s what I achieve for the month of November, I will have succeeded.

Even if I only write a few hundred words a day or less, that’s still progress towards the ultimate goal; the finished novel. It’s still an achievement if it gets me back into the habit of regular writing.

So what are my tips for NaNo at this stage in the game.

  • Adjust your writing goals to what is practically achievable. There’s no satisfaction in striving for something you can’t attain.
  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t berate yourself for falling behind, just keep going.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. There will always be someone with more words and someone with less words than you.
  • Celebrate what you have achieved already
  • Have fun and enjoy the process

I’d love to hear how you’re going with your NaNoWriMo project and what tips you have to share.

I’m not going to state my word count here because as I’ve said, for me, it’s not about the numbers. But if you’re curious, you can find me on the NaNoWriMo site at DeeScribe:)

Happy writing and Nanoing:)



  1. Yep. That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking. I’ve had heaps of days where I haven’t written or haven’t written enough but I’ve achieved a few ‘real life things’ this month too, including moving into my first house.

    So, nanowrimo for me was always about starting a new project and getting into a new writing routine rather than the word count. I’m aiming to get to 37,000 words before the end of the month now.

  2. Hi Kathleen,

    Congratulations! Moving into a new house is a huge achievement and these things have to be factored into our writing goals:)

    If you achieve 37,000 words by the end of the month that will be fantastic, if not, you will have still made great progress. Good luck with it.


  3. Thanks. You made a really good point. I’ve fallen behind twice now and this year it’s a horrendous struggle around my other activities. Normally I’d be almost there by now and thoroughly enjoying it. This year I’m having too many days when I do something else and wind up exhausted and uncreative afterwards.

  4. Thanks, Robert,

    I know that feeling of having too many days doing something else…and I’ve decided it isn’t worth the stress. Even if I only write 100 words a day, it’s still progress:)

    I hope at the end of November you are in a place you want to be, whatever the word count.


  5. Great post, Dee. I’m doing Nanotrymo….I try to write everyday and I have. It’s got me back into a writing routine and back into a story I am excited about. To me….that exceeds any word count. Yesterday I finished my outline for my story complete with the ending I often lose sight of. Now I just have to sit and methodically work my way through writing the scenes. The hard bit is done. Now comes the fun part.

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