How many words should a writer write in a day if they could?
If you ask anyone who writes, they’ll all have different opinions on how much a writer should write per day. Some say you should write when you’re inspired, for as much as you’re inspired to do. Some say 200 words a day makes big things happen. Some say more. Does a magic number exist? I think every writer has to decide what’s good for themselves, as goes most things in life. So the question becomes: What is your magic number?
To decide how many written words to make a daily goal, I ask these three questions.
How much time do I have?
What am I writing?
How soon do I want to be finished writing this piece?
I know how many words I write an hour when I’m being productive, so I know how much time I need to give per day to accomplish what I want to write.
I LOVE this quote by Tom Wolfe:
What I write when I force myself is generally just as good as what I write when I’m feeling inspired. It’s mainly a matter of forcing yourself to write.
Sometimes, seeing words on a blank screen or sheet of paper is intimidating. Especially if they’re bad words and you don’t have very many of them. The thing to remember is that words are editable. Once they are on the paper, you can leave them and come back to them when they aren’t so lonely on the page. You can switch them around and replace them to say exactly what you want them to. Writing them down does not make them permanent. Even if you write them in sharpie. The power to edit what you’ve written is always yours, unless you never write anything down and keep it all in your head or behind the mental block trying to stop you from creating.
Personally, my magic number is 2,000. I’m writing very long books, so even with a high word count like that, it’s still going to take me a while. I try to write 2,000 words Monday through Thursday every week. It’s a lot, but I have time and ambition and I don’t make it optional. Recently, I’ve been in a spell of writer’s block. When I open my laptop, writing seems overwhelming and unimaginable because I am in a stage where I don’t know some huge aspects of my book and need to think them out.
So instead of 2,000, I’ve been writing 200 words a day. Usually, I can get 200 words done by adding a few sentences on to a part I’ve already written. It doesn’t feel like I’m accomplishing much, but 200 words is better than nothing.
I think it is possible to find a magic word count, but I think it’s something that’s found and not something that someone can tell you. Which sounds daunting and vague. So ask yourself what you want to accomplish and what time you have to get you there, then go. Start somewhere. Pick a number and see if it works wonders, and adjust it if it’s not the one for you.