You’ve probably read many good books about writing and attended at least one transformative workshop.
You’ve learn a lot, written a bunch, fell off the writing wagon, and hopped back on more than once.
Despite your efforts, it’s still challenging to set reasonable writing goals and meet them.
One expert says you should write a page a day. Another says four pages. You should write 1,000 words or for forty-five minutes or for two hours. You should write every day or not write every day.
But you know there is no one size fits all in writing.
To be fair, writing teachers share what has worked for them and for their students out of generosity, out of a desire to serve.
I have the same desire, which is why I’m about to share with you a strategy that has helped me and many of my students and clients.
But only use it if serves you.
If you want to make progress on a writing project, the trick is to find the sweet spot that works for you, the reasonable goal that gets you up and writing regularly.
And when that stops working, find another way.
For lack of a more clever term that I might profitably trademark (just joking, I would never trademark what belongs to the universe), I refer to this practice as the Minimum Daily Requirement.
The Minimum Daily Requirement (MDR) is not a specific word count or number of hours you need to sit your butt in the chair.
It is a manageable, deliberate practice that is repeatable on a regular basis.
Below is the Minimum Daily Requirement I set up for myself when I was living in Massachusetts after my daughter stepped down from residential treatment for debilitating OCD.
I was on the tail end of the most emotionally brutal and exhausting year of my life.
A new project was calling, and I needed to create the least intimidating goals I could imagine, which I share with you here:
For five days a week (or three days or whatever works for you), do one of the following:
1) Three pages of writing practice toward whatever chapter or scene you are trying complete.
2) Type/transcribe 500 words from your writing practice journal.
3) Every two weeks, shape five to eight pages into something someone else might be able to read and comprehend.
After six months of following these guidelines, I completed 30,000 words in decent enough shape to share with an editor.
It was definitely not the fast route to the finish line, but the pages did pile up.
You can steal my original MDR or try adjust it according to your own inner compass. Or you can toss it out.
Again, do whatever works for you, with infinite compassion for yourself.
Before I sign off, I want to share a conversation I had with my brother a few days ago.
He was telling me what a force my father was in his life. My dad was indeed a legend in our family, among his friends, and to the people he worked with.
When he died in January, my brother despaired that in taking over my father’s business, in trying to carry out his legacy, he could never fill his shoes.
Here’s what I told my sweet sibling:
You have your own shoes. Try walking in them and see what happens.
As you follow the writing path, may you find your own way with practices that serve you.
May you trust yourself to walk in your own footsteps and to bring yourself home to the work that calls.