Word targets are the life-blood of the full-time writer. A novel is a big piece of work and if your only milestone is the completion of it, then you’re going to get lost up your own fountain pen. The only sensible way to track progress is by setting yourself a daily word target and, as usual, Scrivener provides the perfect tool.
Like most writers, I have struggled with the concept of word targets. You come to writing with delusions of sitting outside French cafes with a Gitane in one hand and a Creme de Menthe in the other, waxing lyrically about the hem of an exotic ladies dress and life waits patiently until you have finished your musings… or was that just me? Anyway, reality is seldom as exciting as our dreams.
I started writing with an expectation of being able to write a whole book in a month. That then changed to 6-weeks and then 2 months, and so on. Writing is an art form like no other. If you’re a painter then you finish a picture, the canvas stays the same size throughout and you just add flourishes to it. Writing is about the nitty-gritty of getting words down on paper, if you get enough words down then you end up with a book. But first thing’s first, you have to get the words down on paper.
You need to be able to set yourself a word target everyday if you can. It has to be low enough that it won’t get in the way of your life otherwise you won’t stick to it, but it has to be high enough that you get through your book within this lifetime. I’ve played around with a number of aspirational targets but I’ve found that 2,000 words is my personal sweet spot. (In this post I calculate the optimal word targets for you)
Writing is a manual job and for this you need a toolbox, fortunately Scrivener is like a B&Q Depot for writers. Now the target is working well for me, I’ve started using the target tracker in Scrivener. Here’s how you do it:
- In the Project menu at the top, select ‘Show Project Targets’
- Within here you can edit the manuscript target or the session target, or both.
- Once you have applied your target, keep the box open and click on the ‘full screen composition’ mode.
- It keeps the box open and you can move it to a place that does not distract you.
- The bars then change colour the closer you get to your target.
Another target you can set is in the document/chapter/page, one of the text files on the left hand side.
- For this, click on the target in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
- Set your target.
- An indicator will now show at the bottom of the document, again changing colour the closer you get.
I tend not to use this one because I find it hard to know how long a chapter’s going to be at the beginning.
Sticking to word targets will make you a more prolific writer. It will keep you focussed and it will edge you ever nearer to achieving your goal.
Has anyone else found the word target tool working for them?