In general, I find that having goals is a Good Thing.  It’s useful to know what you intend to do in a day, in a week, or in a month.  Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can achieve in a year.

I’ve been running some experiments and discovered that I can usually write 400-500 words in a day, given my other commitments.  Not all of them are good words, in fact many of them are not, but that’s not the point.  The point is that if I do that, every day, I could have the first draft of a novel written in half a year.  That actually boggles my mind, because I was expecting it to take several years.  Half a year?  That’s a goal I could get behind.

But here’s the thing.

Goals should not take over your life.

When I was away camping last week, I didn’t write anything.  Not one word, for six days.  I know there will be other weeks this year when similar things happen.  So maybe my novel will take a little longer.  And that’s ok, because writing a novel in half a year is not the be-all and end-all of my life.

Some people would say that this means I am not a “proper writer”, or not “passionate enough” or some such.  I laugh in their general direction.  Their mother was a hamster and their father smelled of elderberries.  If they don’t go away I shall taunt them a second time.  Or something.  This post is not written for them.

This post is written for those people who love writing, who want to write, but who also have a life outside, in the real world.  To them I want to say: You Are Not Alone.  Set goals if you want; write when you can; but do not worry if you don’t write every day.

Dragging myself back to the point, writing a novel is too much of a long term goal for me.  Things change, new oportunities come up and steal my time, and I find it difficult to maintain interest if the end of the project is in many months time.  That’s why I have decided not to set the goal of writing a novel in half a year.  Or even writing a novel.

That isn’t to say that I won’t be writing a novel, of course, but writing the novel is not my main goal – writing is.