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Mile 28: Pace

By now, you should have a few words down, maybe even a few thousand, and be well on your way toward finishing the first draft of your first novel. At some point, you may have asked yourself, how many words should I be writing a day, a week, a month? It’s a fair question and one I would guess everyone new to writing would ask themselves.

The answer is: it’s up to you, and it doesn’t really matter. There are a small handful of writers in the Western world who can turn out 3,000 words a day, day after day, year after year. And based on their sales, they are pretty high-quality words at that. There are others who take two to three years to complete a novel.

Me? I’ve had weekends where I’ve turned out 12,000 words — and I wrote my first Caz novel in five days. On the other hand, I’ve had days where I sat in front of my computer for a long time, and when I was done, I had less than 500 words. I’ve also had periods — rare, but they happen — of up to a week where I don’t (maybe can’t) write a word. Maybe I’m struggling with the storyline and waiting for it to clarify. Maybe I just finished another book and need a few days where I’m not writing.

The key is that while I have goals and try hard to reach them, I am not a slave to them. If I’m feeling good, I roll with it, often writing for hours on end. I remember one particular Saturday, I had the house to myself and nowhere to be, and I wrote for eight straight hours — without a break or a bite to eat. I was the most surprised guy on the planet when I looked up, thinking I’d been at it for about an hour, and discovered it was eight hours.

On the other hand (and there’s always an other hand), I have sometimes sat staring at the screen, simply unable to put together a thought that made it worth typing. I’ve learned that the moments where the words roll off your fingers as if they are divinely inspired are few and far between, but to be savored and embraced when they happen. I’ve also learned that in the moments where I think I may have typed my last, it’s sometimes best to just get up, walk away, and do or think about something else. It’ll come back when it’s ready. By the way, I have no idea what “it” is!

Bottom line? Don’t force it, and never take it for granted. Don’t get too high when it’s flowing or begin to think that’s how it will always be. Don’t get too low on the days when you struggle. This too shall pass.

Set your goals and plan your writing schedule, but allow yourself the luxury of staying well past your planned end time, and of walking away and living to write another day. You can ask a hundred writers about their production and you’ll get a hundred different answers. The only one that matters is the one that works for you.

I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].

Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!

One Comment on “Mile 28: Pace

Thelma Clark
December 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Keep trying if you wish. Possibly take a few classes on story composing. Possibly a word reference. Keep it straightforward and the stuff you about. Somebody mixed up an old sentiment I once had. I needed to expound on it to get it out of my framework. Part of the way through I needed to extemporize. Good Luck

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