500 Words and Climbing
One of the nice things about having a BIG project is that it forces me to write every day, no exceptions. I began with a goal of 500 words per night, triple that on the weekdays.

No big accomplishment there. If you’ve ever held yourself to a writing schedule, you know that this isn’t all that ambitious. Most the pros you know crank out a thousand plus in a sitting, and before this post is finished it will be near 300 words. But with workdays consistently stretching to 12+ hours (did a 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. stretch on Tuesday), and filial responsibilities at home, getting in a few hours to write can be a major accomplishment.

Surprisingly – and this is a testament to my ignorance of that wonderful machine, the human being – it has become really easy to break 500 words. What used to take 2 hours, fell to an hour and a half, and then an hour. On a good evening I can kiss H good night and then get another thousand words done before crashing.

Caveat: some nights are better than others. Last night I fell asleep sitting upright at the computer.

Anyhow, the real benefit of this process has been discipline. All through college I considered myself a writer, but I was lucky to write just on the weekends. By contrast, averaging 6ish thousand a week puts me at 15 weeks or 4 months to complete a rough draft of a 90k word project.

The fun part is, anyone can do it. A-n-y-o-n-e. Sit down for a couple hours every night, do it for 5 months and viola, you’ve written a novel!

I’m still trying to reconcile the math in my own mind, but the every morning there's the proof: another 700 words. Let’s hope some of them are good ones.

P.S. I'm interested in hearing how the pros do it. Ed, Erik, Jaleigh, Kam, E.C.? Any anecdotes to share?

P.P.S. *laugh* I forgot the original intent of my post. This weekend H is going rafting with the girls from work. For me that equates to 48 straight hours of eating meat, falling down on concrete and writing! Woot!


At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any word on that closed call, Harl?

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Grimbones said...

Nada. Maybe next week, neh? :)

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Grimbones said...

Just added the visual test (you can find it under settings/comments). Hopefully will keep the spam away.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Kameron said...

This "pro" is swamped under non-writing commitments right now, so I'm lucky if I have two or three nights a week to write. However, when I do sit down, I average around 700 words (a page and a half).

At 9:05 AM, Blogger ec said...

I haven't been working with daily word-count goals, but I know many people who do. I've even seen some author blogs/websites that post daily accomplishments. I'm thinking of starting something of this ilk, as it emphasizes important elements of the writing process: focus, direction, discipline, and accountability,

One of my biggest problems is moving ahead with a project--I tend to go over and over the same stuff and I've been stalling out a lot recently. To defeat my particular batch of bad habits, I should have a "NEW word count" goal for each day, in addition to what I add while revising and editing. I'm also thinking of time-clocking my various writing activities: keeping a log to make me more aware of how much time I spend writing, revising, reading, and online. I suspect it will be much like keeping a diet and exercise journal--you find out you're taking in more calories and expending far fewer than you thought.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Grimbones said...

" I suspect it will be much like keeping a diet and exercise journal--you find out you're taking in more calories and expending far fewer than you thought."

Heh. Amen. Another chapter for "EC's Guide to Writing a Novel."

At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Erik Scott de Bie said...

Oh, H-man, I'm not sure you should take any advice from me -- I'm the most infrequent writer ever. Sometimes I go whole weeks without writing, then sit down and crank out three chapters in one weekend (a chapter for me being 4000ish words).

If I'm scheduling myself, I usually manage about 1500 words every other day or so.

Generally, when I find real WRITING time, it's such a relief and release that my hands have to work overtime to get down all these ideas I've had banging around in my head for days.

One thing I don't do, though, is block off LOTS of time. If I sit down with around 5-6 hours, my mind wanders and I can't maintain writing. Generally, I try to keep it to bursts -- 1-2 hour affairs.


At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My pattern's a lot like Erik's. I can't write consistently without life stuff popping up all over the place, so I try to set weekly or bi-weekly goals instead of daily counts. And if I have an entire afternoon in front of the computer, I'll be staring out the window for half that. I have to go in spurts unless a deadline is looming.



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