The Journal: The Value of Goals

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* TinyLetter?
* Topic: The Value of Goals
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“I’m ready to finally take the plunge into WITD.” Chynna Pace

I love that kind of committment. (grin) No “thinking” no “considering” no “maybe.” Just a healthy dose of Let’s Do This.


Has anyone else heard of TinyLetter? It’s by MailChimp, but it costs nothing and is absolutely no-frills. When I closed my MailChimp account, with its dying breath it said I might want to check out TinyLetter.

I’m glad I did. TinyLetter is billed as “Email for people with something to say.” It’s a way to send out a newsletter without having a website or any of that. If you have an email account, you’re golden.

Best of all, it’s free, both to you and to your subscribers. I set up an account in about five minutes, if it took me even that long. I’m not sure whether or how I’ll use the account, but it might be a good way to share your fiction or your thoughts with potential readers.

In my test email, I wrote in part

“In this little email newsletter, sometimes I’ll send out a short story or vignette. Sometimes I’ll send an excerpt from a novel. I might even serialize a novel.

“If I decide to get really crazy, I might write a novella or novel ‘in public,’ right here in your inbox. In that case, every time I finish a scene or chapter, I’ll post it here and send it out. So you can read a novella or novel in real time as it’s being written.”

I didn’t brainstorm. Those were just a few ideas that popped up as I wrote that first email. (Dan B, this might be great for your weekly blogette.)

This is an exciting little no-frills newsletter that many of you might find useful. You can check it out at

Topic: The Value of Goals

Recently one of my mentoring students and I were discussing goals, and I realized it’s been awhile since I talked about that in the Journal.

I’m not going to get long-winded here, or winded at all for that matter. I’ve written several posts on “goals” and on “goals vs. dreams.” If you type either of those terms into the search box in the sidebar at the Journal website or over on, you’ll find plenty there to keep you occupied.

For now, suffice it to say that it’s all but impossible to write a novel. You know that and I know that. If you want to feel overwhelmed, sit down at a keyboard, put your fingers on the keys and think, Okay, I’m going to write a novel now. Chances are, you’ll freeze solid.

On the other hand, pretty much anyone can sit down at the same keyboard with a title or a character or situation in mind and write for an hour (set a timer if you want). That should be around 1000 words (only 17 words per minute). Then take a short break, then come back and write for another hour, etc.

If you spend just two hours in the chair writing each day, that’s 2000 words per day and 10,000 words per five-day week or 14,000 words per seven-day week. It’s also between 40,000 and 60,000 words per month. And that, my friends, is a novel.

If you spend three hours in the chair every day, so much the better. You can do the math depening on how many days per week you write.

But to be REALLY effective — to write novels and short stories and whatever else without ever thinking about what you’re writing — I recommend setting a daily word count goal.

Make your daily goal a number that is neither easy to hit nor impossible to hit. If you can routinely hit 2000 words (2 hours’ writing) per day, set your daily writing goal at 3000 words. You’ll have to stretch a bit to reach or surpass it, but when you do you’ll feel great.

And when you fall a little short, so what? Tomorrow’s a new day and the goal resets to zero. So no looking back, no beating yourself up. Just moving forward day by day. And before you know it, your novel is finished.

Best of all, a daily word-count goal will help you with the “imporance” problem that afflicts most writers.

As I’ve said many times, what you write doesn’t matter. The individual story or novel is not important at all. It’s only a few minutes’ or hours’ entertainment for someone.

What’s important is THAT you write, not WHAT you write.

Setting and striving to reach a daily word count goal will help with that. What’s important is that you reach your goal, not where those words go.

Say you have a word count goal of 3000 publishable words of fiction per day. One day, you might write a short story that’s 3,246 words. Another day, you might write 2972 words on your novel, come to the end of a scene and decide to call it good.

On yet another day, you might write a short-short story at 1217 words and write the other approximately 1800 words on your novel. Or you might write 730 words and reach the end of your novel, then take a break, come back, and write another 2300 words on a short story or the opening of the next novel.

Possibilities are endless. But with this system, what matters is THAT you get to the keyboard and write — your focus is on reaching your word count goal — not WHAT you write (the novel, short story or whatever).

Make sense? Try it and see whether your productivity increases. I’m betting it will.

And for writing period? New subscriber Chynna Pace (she of the Quote of the Day) also reminded me I once wrote in the Journal, “If the emails you write feel easier than your fiction, you’re still in the critical voice mindset.”

Talk with you later.

Of Interest

See “Photographers capture ‘ridiculously detailed image’ of the moon for NASA’s Artemis 1 launch” at

See “20 space myths busted!” at Very interesting.

See “Something Really Crazy and Innovative” at

See “How to Use Images of Real People Without Violating Privacy and Publicity Rights” at But see PG’s take.

See “Rethinking Libel for the Twenty-First Century” at Mainly see PG’s take.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1060 words

Writing of (novel, tentative title)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for August……… 13935
Total fiction words for the year………… 66431
Total nonfiction words for August… 18140
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 124380
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 190811

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 67
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: Along with discussing various aspects of the writing craft, I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. WITD is “the only way” to write, but it is by far the easiest, most liberating, and most fun.