Reasonable Writing Goals and Releasing Guilt

Writing is a constant endeavor for many of us. This is because writing is part of who we are, part of our souls and even our identities. I get super duper cranky when I don’t get to write, and I am a MUCH happier mom, wife, and person if I get to write every day.

I’ve been super duper cranky this week.

It’s NaNoWriMo this month, and I’m slowly watching the line of what should be my daily writing goal increase while my bar graph of progress has gone almost flat. November always turns out to be an extremely busy month for me at work, my children have been sick this week, I haven’t been able to write during the day, so I’ve been falling asleep at my laptop every night and *deep breath*…

Yes, breathe. I finally remembered to breathe and then took the time to remember some things. Balancing all of the other obligations in life plus writing isn’t easy. My lovely critique partner Erin said it well in yesterday’s post when she pointed out that it is very easy to take on too much and suddenly find yourself with too many sides (like a dodecahedron).

Here are some tips for setting reasonable goals with writing:

1. Release the guilt. You don’t need to be everything to everyone at all times. Your family isn’t going to suffer if you don’t cook every night. Your kids will learn a little more independence if you explain you need the next thirty minutes (uninterrupted) to write. My kids know that writing is a normal part of my day, and they sometimes even make me little writing mascots to cheer me on. We write because we love it, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing it.

2.  Life happens. If you took the NaNoWriMo advice that poured in mid to end of October, then you probably cleared your schedule as much as you could for this month. In doing so, you mentally prepared yourself for having all of the time you’d need for your daily writing goals. But unexpected things sometimes pop up. Make sure you have writing goals, but don’t kick yourself if you can’t meet them because of things that are out of your control.

3. Some words are better than none. So you didn’t quite meet your writing goals yesterday. Or the day before. Give yourself allowances for hard days, but do make an effort to sit down every day and write as much as you can. Even if you’re not making your word count goals each day, writing every day is an excellent goal in and of itself.

4. Recognize your own strengths. I’m not a fast writer. If I’m lucky, I bust out maybe 300-400 words during each 30 minute #writeclub sprint every Friday night. But I’ve been told by more than one editor that my early drafts need less revisions compared to other drafts they’ve seen. Things like this tend to even out, and while it’s hard not to measure yourself against others during sprints or other word count-specific writing exercises, remember that your writing style is unique to you.

Do you have any other advice to share about how to juggle writing, life, and fend off the super duper crankiness? 


Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read all of the books on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. Originally from upstate New York, Helen spent much of her early adult life tromping around in Buffalo, NYC, Toronto, and Las Vegas, those cities now serving as inspiration for the dark and gritty backdrops of her stories. An author of both urban fantasy and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of YA urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, and NA contemporary romance LOSING ENOUGH.

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