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I know a lot of people strongly believe in having writing goals. In addition to daily writing goals, some people will have date specific target goals to ensure they finish by a specific time.

Do writing goals work for you? Why do they work? What are the benefits/disadvantages of having writing goals? Do some work better than others?

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This is a discussion question which will, as many questions here do, boil down to "whatever works for you." You could rephrase as "what are the benefits/disadvantages of having writing goals?" but as posted, this is not a good fit for the board. –  Lauren Ipsum Aug 4 '11 at 19:35
    
@Steven - please edit this question to make it fit the format of a Q&A site, including all the criteria in this blog post or it is likely to be closed. –  justkt Aug 4 '11 at 23:58
    
@justkt - If you have any suggestions on what might make it a better question, I'd love to hear them. I'm trying to stir up some activity on this site, and I think it would be a LOT more beneficial to provide examples for everyone to see than just criticize and close. At least you offered me a chance to change this before closing, unlike the answer to another question which you closed without discussion. How are site visitors supposed to learn if moderators use their authority to just close objects without explaining why? –  Steven Drennon Aug 5 '11 at 2:32
    
@Steven How about breaking it up into specific types of writing goals and their value? –  user179700 Aug 5 '11 at 6:19
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Steven, here are some questions that would be better: 1) "I've set myself writing goal X, but I'm not managing to stick by it because of Y. How can I meet my goal - or should I change it?" 2) "I've been working with writing goal X, and I'm meeting it, but the quality of my writing seems to be suffering for it in manner Y. What should I do?" 3) "In my writing I'd like to achieve [long-term or non-formal goal X, e.g. completing a short story within a month, or plotting a setting-heavy mystery novel]; what would be a set of immediate short-term goals to achieve this?" –  Standback Aug 5 '11 at 7:32
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Benefits and disadvantages of writing goals--this is becoming a tough fight.

We have

procrastination, ass-kicking and getting things done

in the right corner, and

dull routine, writing with heart and originality

in the left corner.

or

Kicking the muse vs Waiting till she comes

(I am oversimplifying here. Use common sense to fill the gap. If you are unable to do that, go to another answer.)

If you write every day at least 1 page/100 words/whatever, you get a lot writing done. You get a lot of practice. And you write a lot of shit.

Writing to a goal every day means, that you write when you are happy, bored, sick, have a headache, won the lottery, got divorced, buried your goldfish, shot your stepmother. Not very likely that you write brilliant prose all the time. If you are writing a novel, you will generate an awful lot of chapter rewriting--from scratch.

If you write in the right mood, if you put your heart in every sentence when you write, not thinking "I can change it later" but "it’s the best I can write", your crap-rate could be reduced dramatically. If your mind is flowing, it is possible to write almost perfect pieces of prose. Doing it while celebrating the death of your stepmother could be a little bit distracting.

But if the muse waits three months till she get her lazy butt into your writing lair, then you lack routine to listen to her sweet insinuations. The transfer of words from her lisping lips to your shivering hands is deranged--like your mind. You will despair, and while you cry in agony the dragon of failure will devour your soul.

Now go and find your own corner. Yes, you'll catch a black-eye or two.

Oh, wait, has Lauren already mentioned "whatever works for you"? No? Lazy muses ...

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John: Your muse lisps? That must make transcription a challenge. –  Lauren Ipsum Aug 5 '11 at 11:51
    
You have no idea, @Lauren. Luckily my shivering hands compensate a lot. –  John Smithers Aug 5 '11 at 12:00
    
+1 for writing in the right mood; on the other hand a comment regarding the muse is unhelpful –  Unreason Aug 8 '11 at 14:40
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I personally need goals. There's a great sense of accomplishment once I've reached them. To me, that's the greatest benefit. The muse used to literally "own" me perhaps a year ago, but now I'm comfortable knowing I can change all of this later and it never will be perfect on the first go. For me, I know where my weaknesses are, and there's no use worrying about it until it needs worrying about (the second draft and beyond).

Many writers worry about their output and its quality during the first draft, but in my opinion, what's crucial is extracting that story and getting those ideas out on paper. I've since tied my "muse" to an anvil and hurled her over the Atlantic. Arrivederci and so long...

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