Words x Days = ?


Like most people in the easternmost quarter of the US, I spent time getting ready for Hurricane Sandy – leaves out of gutters, water into spare bottles, eggs boiled for quick nutrition. It was work that left the mind free, absent concern about falling tree limbs, to ponder writing.


I recently heard a speaker advise a crowd of writers not to worry if they didn’t put down X number of words per day – a suggestion that contrasts with “seat of the pants to the seat of the chair, daily”.


One writer moaned that if she couldn’t write seven out of seven, she would, like, die, man!




To me, it depends.


I don’t suffer if I cannot work on certain projects every day. Gnash my teeth, perhaps, vow to wake early or repose later . . . but even during power outages (Frankenstorm) there’s always plotting to do by candlelight. That is, after all, the time-honored way. Shakespeare had no LEDs.


When working on children’s books, I tend to write, then leave text to marinate. Send it out to a helpful friend. Take those suggestions and re-craft. Count meter and syllables. Press Control + F to figure how many variants of water emerge. Research evocative verbs. Go back and forth, ebb and flow.


When working on novels, though, I write. In the past, 1K words per day was the goal. Now, it’s 2K.


The reason is that a thousand words will advance the story. Double that, and the story’s world and characters grow richer. Immersion grants understanding and empathy, as well as a sense of what the story needs. I absorb more, and therefore create more, with 2K words.


That’s me, and may not work for you. Which is the point. Do whatever works under your particular constraints.


But be ready to change.


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