Put Word Count Targets On A Calendar

Put Word Count Targets On A Calendar
writingcalendarAustralian novelist Fran Cusworth has a simple technique whenever she’s planning a novel: she gets a calendar and writes down a target number of words that have to be completed on each day.

Cusworth, who has published two novels (The Love Child and Hopetoun Wives) with Penguin and is polishing on the second draft of a third while working on a PhD and raising two small children with her husband, explained her technique at a writing time management course I attended in Melbourne this week. “Set yourself word counts to the end of the year,” she said. Cusworth uses an erasable board so she can adjust those totals as circumstances change; you could get much the same effect by using your preferred calendar application.

While Cusworth advocates the technique for creative writing, it’s just as useful in a work context. In more extreme circumstances, you can use the same approach with a much shorter time frame: set yourself targets for every 15 minutes and try to eliminate all other distractions (tools like Typewriter or WriteRoom for Google Docs can help with this). For a long-term project, remember when you’re done to finish mid-sentence so you can start off easily next time around.

What’s your trick for beating the writer’s block blues? Share it in the comments.


  • Does anyone really need to be told this as a suggestion?! If a writer can’t set themselves a target like this (if they really need it) you have to wonder if they are capable of writing anything worth reading…

  • I am writing because I have just finished reading Fran’s “Love Child” and found it to be a beautifully written and honest book on how women often feel being a mother. Serena’s thoughts and feelings are felt by so many mothers around the world, who keep it to themselves because they think that they must be a “terrible person” to even think like that. Being a mother is a difficult but rewarding job, but without your husband/partner by your side to take a share of the load, I know from my own personal experience that it can be so tiring and very lonely. It is a fact of life that many fathers have stressful jobs with long hours and even though they are doing it all for their family they forget to take a step back and see what they are missing. Excellent book for many mothers out there.

Log in to comment on this story!