Just Keep Writing: Know Your Limits (and take a break)

Sometimes your goals are not achievable. That’s okay.

I recently had to learn this. I had used my word count tracker and set a goal to write 10,000 words a week (2000 words a day). Since setting that goal, I have only succeed doing this once. Two weeks ago, I succeeded it by writing over 3000 words on two of the days. Last week, I wrote only a little over 3000 words total.

When I set that big goal, I had forgotten about my limits. As a woman, my mental capacity to write often fluctuates with the time of month. I was in a slow mental place for writing, so I used my time to do other things, like clean or plan my fall classes. It was difficult to step away from writing because I wanted to reach my goal, and at first I felt like a failure.

I had to remind myself that I was the one who had set the goal! I hadn’t known, when I set it, what my limits were. I hadn’t known that writing 10,000 words a week relied on so many factors out of my control. So I decided to give myself grace. With that grace, I’m able to recognize that some weeks I’m going to exceed my goals, and other weeks I’m going to need a break. It will balance out.

I think it’s important to remember what matters most as well. I care about my writing a lot, and I am trying to make it a priority as if it were my full-time job. But I also can’t put it above my relationships or my mental health. That’s why I decided to take a week off to volunteer for VBS at my church, and why some days, if a friend reaches out, I’ll take a break to go see them.

If you’re like me and are not yet held under the deadlines of a publishers, now may be both the time to learn discipline and to take advantage of the time you have. It’s a balance.

For now, I am keeping my goals high, but I’m also giving myself grace for those days or weeks when I need to rest or pick up other responsibilities. After all, I am the author of my life, too, and I want to choose daily patterns that are not just about achievement but about following the life style that I want to live. I’m writing because I want to. If a certain goal is sucking my joy out of writing, it needs to go. Writing benefits me–not the other way around.

What goals have you set? What limits do you have? What do you do when you can’t write?

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