There are days I say to myself, I’m writing today, regardless. I set myself a 1000 word target for a writing session and try to write a minimum of 500 words. Sometimes it takes me an hour to write 120 words. Sometimes a half hour will net 500, so I keep going.
I have three writing targets for each writing session:
- I have a session writing target—usually 1000 words in an hour. That’s achievable if I write reasonably solidly. Sometimes I write 3000 words in an hour, sometimes 500 words.
- I have a chapter writing target. This varies according to the book. The book I’m writing at the moment has chapter targets of 4000-6000 words. That’s an arbitrary figure chosen to fit the plotted chapters to the book target. Some of my chapters currently hover around the 3000 word mark but I’m not concerned. I’ve left a significant amount of emotion out of this first draft. Going through and putting that in will bump those words up significantly.
- I also have a book target. My current book has a minimum target of 85000 words. While I’m writing, it’s just a number that shows me I’m making progress. I really have no idea how long the book is going to end up because my first drafts often miss huge chunks of necessary emotion and also often drop minor plot lines and never finish them. Putting all that in will probably increase the manuscript by about 10%. Then the editing will begin and the word count will drop again.
There are days—like today—where I need to watch each of those targets. These are the days that writing is a struggle so I look at the book target and see I need another 350 words to get to the next 1000. That’s achievable but a bit far away. I move onto the session target and see I’ve written 194 words; 800 shy of my 1000 word target. The chapter I’m writing is one I started a few days ago. It has a target of 4000 and I’m now at 3300, so only 700 short of my chapter target.
I dismiss the session target and the chapter target for now and focus on the book target. There are only 350 words to write to reach the next milestone. I can do that. It’s only a few hundred words. So I write.
Once I hit that target, I look at my session and chapter targets again. My chapter target is now only 350 words from the 4000 words. I can do that. It’s not much to write.
By the time I do that, I’m only 106 short of the session target. Anyone can write 100 words, right?
So that’s how I make it work when I don’t know what to write or don’t feel like writing.