How many words do you write a day?

My new novel is coming along – just not fast enough for my liking.

I write during my lunch break at work, which I can extend to around two hours. So, given some time to to actually eat my lunch, that leaves about an hour and a half to write. It’s not a lot of time, and for this first draft of my novel, I’ve been writing about 500 words a day, from Monday to Friday.

I did some Internet research to see what I could find on what other writers write daily. I also commented on the issue in response to a post by Dean Wesley Smith, which started an interesting thread on other writers’ word counts.  There is quite a range of words per day (or per hour as some listed it) among writers.

Dean said that he writes about 750 words per hour. Other writers claimed to write quite a bit more than that, but I suspect they would have trouble maintaining such a high rate, day in and day out. My Internet research uncovered the fact that Stephen King, a prolific writer, writes 2,000 words a day, six days a week. Other writers said they wrote anywhere from 400 to 3000 words per day. Of course, if you’re a full time writer, you will write more words per day than those of us who have day jobs.

The bottom line: my rate of 500 words, in an hour and a half, seems low. And I admit I do plenty of daydreaming, sometimes even talking to myself out loud. (My husband gets a good laugh when he hears me babbling on to myself.) So I’ve decided to step up my output and aim for 1000 words. I tried it yesterday and it worked – I didn’t let myself stop writing until I’d written that number.

One writer on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog suggested an app called Write or Die – it forces writers to keep up their word count or face various forms of punishment. You set the number of words per hour you want to write and if you fall behind, you can select to either receive a gentle reminder, or hear loud and irritating noises, or even (gasp!) have your writing start to disappear. I am going to try self-discipline first – now that I know my word count is low, I’m motivated to step it up (nothing like a little competition to spur me on). But I will keep Write or Die as a backup plan.

The thing is, writing is hard work. I didn’t think it would be that way when I started writing on a daily basis – I thought I would eagerly spew out reams of work. But no, it’s not like that. The words don’t magically appear. Even though I enjoy writing – I have this need to write – sometimes it’s really tough unleash the creative juices. The urge to procrastinate (I must send that email, I need to organize my purse or briefcase, I’ll just go on Twitter for a minute, etc. etc.) sometimes takes over.

We writers have to fight it and fill the pages with words, every day. But that doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy!

Recent Posts