Daily Word Count- Does it Count?

My Daily Word Count

I’ve got to admit I wasn’t good at keeping to a daily word count or writing morning pages or anything that smacked of discipline.

I was one of those who waited for the Muse to take me into a creative flow. Trouble was, The Muse didn’t have my address.

As a result, my creative writing was sporadic whereas my deadline-driven writing was right on cue.

Learned wisdom, on the other hand, argues that building the writing muscle is essential if you want to produce anything. Daily word count or its equivalent is the key to achieving this. On the back of that you will now find a range of websites, apps and gurus who provide motivation to get you into the mode of a daily discipline to write 500 words, 750 words, 8 minutes a day, daily pages, and so on.

So, is this what ‘real’ writers do? Word counts? Really?

Short answer, yes.

Do Real Writers Have a Daily Word Count?

Graham Greene wrote 24 novels on top of travel books, children’s books, plays, screenplays, and short stories. 500 words was his daily writing goal target – about two pages.

“Over twenty years I have probably averaged five hundred words a day for five days a week. I can produce a novel in a year, and that allows time for revision and the correction of the typescript. I have always been very methodical, and when my quota of work is done I break off, even in the middle of a scene. Every now and then during the morning’s work I count what I have done and mark off the hundreds on my manuscript.” Graham Greene.

What about other writers and their daily word count?  There are other authors who abide by a word count, but here is a sample…

  • Ernest Hemingway – 500
  • Ian McEwan – 600
  • Sarah Waters -1000
  • Sebastian Faulks – 1000
  • Barbara Kingsolver – 1000
  • Mark Twain – 1400 (in 4-5 hours)
  • Lee Child – 1800 words
  • Nicholas Sparks – 2000 (3-8 hours)
  • Patricia Highsmith – 2000 (4-5 hours)
  • Stephen King – 2000
  • Anne Rice – 3000 words
  • Michael Crichton – 10000 words!

Bear in mind, most of these writers wrote full time. Those of us who write part time need to set a target that will fit into our already busy lives but also stretch us to actually write versus talking and reading about writing.

Nicole Bianchi wrote about word counts back in 2016, the Writing Co-operative did something similar in 2017 and more recently, The Novelry had a crack at covering it. So, feel free to check those blog posts out for more information.

What To Do Next

The fundamental principle is, set yourself a minimum target – make it a daily word count, a certain number of pages, a particular period of time – and then schedule it in to a particular time each day or each week and furthermore, STICK TO IT.

Even if you write drivel, you’re still writing and developing your skill along with your dedication to your craft.  Enjoy the process and reward yourself once you’ve hit target.

Finally, just don’t bag yourself if you miss – it’s a work in progress 🙂

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