You are not a failure! You might be setting unrealistic writing goals though.

Does this sound like you:

A. “… I tend to push myself a lot to write X amount until I’m a wreck if I don’t reach it. I try to plan but my plans fall apart…. I’m so afraid of missing out that I’ve been taking on more than I can reasonably handle for someone who is writing a full-time book load on a part-time basis.” Santino Hassell

Or how about:

B. “For several weeks I wanted to write 1k a day. I’m a fast writer when it comes to typing speed but quickly realized that I’m not a fast storyteller. Day after day I struggled [to] meet this arbitrary goal I set myself and every time I came up short. I felt unmotivated to keep going. Who wants to keep setting themselves up for failure? I have grad school to contend with, a book review blog, a job, and writing. Those things don’t always fit neatly together and I found that goals can really help or really…not.” Austine Decker

Yea… guilty!

Don’t we all do this though? We overestimate either the amount of time we have available to write OR, we greatly inflate the amount… Click To Tweet Then, when we inevitably fail to hit our inflated, unrealistic targets, we lose our confidence and motivation, even start doubting our talent, and whoosh, there go our goals, out the window! 

But what if it were not a question of whether or not you have the talent or interest, or whether or not you are disciplined enough to be productive in your field? And what if the real reason you are not reaching your writing goals is totally within your control to fix?

One of the more frequent pieces of feedback we get from our users, is that Pacemaker helps them set realistic goals. By doing so, they more effectively manage anxiety around impending deadlines and are able to stave off the frustration which can cripple the entire writing process. Our users get to see their project in many different ways (starting out strong and tapering off towards the end, peaking in the middle of their project, writing steadily throughout and more!), then they choose the one which best matches their writing style and availability! In other words, having a realistic and custom Pacemaker Plan motivates our users and helps keep them accountable, which results in them hitting those goals! We believe Pacemaker can do this for you as well!

And we don’t just stop at helping you set realistic goals. We help you adjust to surprise productivity thieves which, let’s be honest, will pop up from time to time! Because Pacemaker helps you create custom writing plans around your real schedule, you get to factor in  lost time so you get a clearer picture of how much real time you actually have to dedicate to your project. So when these things pop up- miss a day here, miss a week there- with a few clicks you can see exactly how much work and time you have left, and conceptualize different ways of getting to the finish line!

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The big take-away here- be honest with yourself about your time and availability. And there’s no need to lie to Pacemaker either, Pacemaker is your friend! If you know that you have work from 9-5, 5 days a week, with 2 hours in the gym on Monday evenings (more power to ya!), and with Saturdays just off the table for whatever reason, you know that realistically you may not be up for having a writing session those days, even though there may be time left on the clock.

Use Pacemaker to create a plan, like we’ve done below,  where you ‘Write Less’ or not at all on Mondays and Saturdays. Then it will show you clearly how that change affects the spread of the word count over the remaining time period. Don’t click Save Plan until you find a permutation that works for you! Think to yourself, “Is this really realistic for me, or does the graph just look pretty?“. Then be kind to yourself- test it out and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, no problem, tweak it until it does!

A valuable piece of fitness advice I heard years ago in response to the question, “What’s the best exercise a person can do?”, was, “The best exercise a person can do is the one they will do!” I think we can say the same for writing plans. The best one out there for you, is the one that you will actually do. Give it a try and see for yourself. Create your realistic Pacemaker Plan today!

And, oh!  Santino Hassell was able to turn A above into: “Pacemaker… WELL. This program is incredible. I don’t even know how to describe it. …I’ve been using Pacemaker since the beginning of December, and I’ve managed to hit every goal, pace myself without wanting to rip my hair out, and plan a calendar for future projects.”

As for Austine Decker, read her post to learn how she uses Pacemaker to help her set goals and stay on track!

We want to hear and publish your Pacemaker story too! So go on, create your personal Pacemaker Plan!

Let’s walk through Creating a Pacemakerplan!

Many of you reading this would already be very familiar with the process of creating a Pacemakerplan. Our hope is that the process is so intuitive that anyone who arrives at is able to easily jump right in and get started. For others, this will be your first visualization of the process from start to finish. Either way, you’re here now, so why not follow along with us below?  There’s really no substitute for a hands-on experience though. So once you’re through here, head over to the site and create your very own!

Step 1: Enter Basic Project Info (What am I doing?)

Give your plan a unique name and classify your writing project.

Under ‘Activity’, specify the particular action you’re doing to create your content (writing, revising, translating etc.). Then under ‘Content’, select the final product you’re hoping to produce (dissertation, essay, thesis etc.).

Step 2: Set your Goals (Where am I going?)

Define the parameters of your writing project.

It’s time to quantify your project. Enter ‘Amount of Work’ and then select ‘How it’s measured’. You might be doing 50,000 words, or 200 hours, or 45 chapters! However your project is measured, here’s the place to make it known. After that’s done, select the time parameters of your project (start and end dates), and voilà, the first version of your Pacemakerplan appears!


Pro tip: You can also choose to display an Overall Target or a Daily Target. If you want to achieve your ‘Amount of Work’ daily select ‘Daily’ (you will still be able to choose days to skip writing if you wish). However, if your ‘Amount of Work’ is your overall target, as in the hypothetical project we’re creating here, leave it as is!

Step 3: Define your strategy (How the heck am I getting there?!)

So you know where you’re going to start, and you know where you’re going to finish, but how in the world are you planning on getting there?! Well, just like a GPS allows you to plot a course from point A to point B, while maybe avoiding toll roads, and optimizing for the fastest route, Pacemaker offers you many ways to get to your goal.

Right now we have 7 Strategy Presets from which you can choose: Steadily, Rising to the Challenge, Biting the Bullet, Mountain Hike, Valley, Oscillating and Random. You’ll find these along with clear descriptions on how they affect your plan right there in the Strategy box.

Here’s an example of the plan we’re creating here using all 7 presets:

You may also choose an intensity for your plan which changes how aggressively a particular strategy is applied. For example, on the ‘gentle’ setting, you won’t see too much variation in your word count targets using most strategies. However, with ‘hard core’, daily goal targets will change more drastically day to day.

For our purposes, let’s go with an average intensity, Oscillating preset, because let’s face it, Oscillating creates the most visually mesmerizing graphs!

Step 4: Customizations (Should I stop to see anything along the way, you know, take in the sights?)

On a road trip from Point A to Point B, after you’ve planned your route, you may decide to do a bit of sightseeing. You may opt to linger a bit longer here or there, or decide to bypass some places altogether.

The Customizations panel in Pacemaker allows you to do something similar. Here you can choose to write more or less on some days, or skip some days altogether (say write more every Tuesday and skip Thursdays or skip whole weeks at a time). You can also reserve a few days at the end of your project for editing, revision etc.  you know, just in case.

For our example, let’s skip weekends and ‘Do More’ on Mondays because, why not? Aaand let’s not reserve any buffer days at the end because, well, we’re just fly like that. Here it is:

Step 5: Display (What kind of map do I want on my journey?)

Choose how you’d like to see your plan displayed: Calendar, Graph or Table. For the commitment-phobes, don’t worry, you can change the display as often as you’d like, you won’t be ‘locked in’ to one display indefinitely.

You know the drill, same plan, 3 ways:

Step 6: Progress (How do I stay on track to finish on time?)

Do you want your plan to adjust based on your progress or do you always want to see how you’re performing in relation to your original plan? Let’s say you write 1000 words on day 1, instead of the 600 your plan prescribed, do you want your plan to automatically recalculate your plan in light of this surplus, or do you want it to stay the same so you can see on your graph that you surpassed your day’s goal?

You’ll also have the opportunity to select how you want to input your progress. You can choose to either record how far you’ve reached each day, or you could record the exact quantity you completed each day. I suppose it just depends on how much math you feel like doing :).


So there you have it! In a few quick steps, you have your very own Pacemakerplan! We’ve tried to make the process as easy and intuitive as possible, but we’re always looking for opportunities to make the process even more so. So if you think of a way we can streamline it even further, we’d love to hear about it!

Happy writing everyone, and thanks for using Pacemaker!