Writing motivation. Daily goals?



I'm in my third and final funded year and currently writing for the next couple of months while I wait to collect my final lot of data.

3,500 words into a 15,000 word chapter and hoping to finish this by the end of next week. Other's in my office think this is incredibly fast but most are part time PhD students whereas I'm full time.

How do others motivate themselves through long writing periods and what kinds of daily goals do you set?

I'm thinking of setting myself a goal of 1500 words per day as this feels doable to me (and my supervisor also has high expectations) what do others think?

Thanks for reading!


Avatar for Mathcomp

Some times setting a goal according to section/ subsections can be a better help. I personally let others know about my goal and that I could make it or not! You can also make a table for a week and write down the number of words you write every day.

Good luck!


Hi GM,

I'm also in my final year, but on a part-time basis.

My daily goal is 500 words. It's high enough to allow me to rack up some serious words every month, yet low enough to still achieve on a 'bad' day.

My advice would be to give yourself a lower goal than 1500 words a day as you don't want to get yourself all stressed out by not achieving your daily goal during this critical stage in your PhD. Even though my goal is 500 words a day, I always keep going until I reach my limit (normally about 1000 words for me). I then give myself an extra BIG pat on the back for being so fabulous and getting so many (stress free) words on the page :)

I also make a list every time I start a new chapter with the dates down one side of the page (w/c [insert date] is enough) and then '500 + 500' next to that date (I work on my thesis two days a week). I always do a word count at the end of the day and keep a cumulative record of what I've written. I LOVE seeing that I'm 2, 3 or 5 weeks ahead of schedule. Definitely a huge motivator for me.

Whatever works for you I say!


Thanks both, that's really helpful. I've had a tendency to always set goals that are a little bit too high (eg. 2000 words) then inevitably fail to reach that and feel rubbish.... completely unproductive!

I'd like to point out that yesterday, after reading these posts in the morning, I re-set my goal to 1000 words and actually wrote 1980 as I was on a roll and it felt good (as you say RLD) to know that I'm ahead of schedule. It always made sense that setting realistic goals would keep me motivated but I'd never actually put it into practice. Amazing how such simple mental tricks make writing much more enjoyable :)


When you write up, quality is better than quantity. Try to motivate yourself with little things. I used to buy myself a little something of ebay every time I finished a chapter. That's how I treated myself.