When I can write, my daily average is around 2,500 words (though I can easily hit 8-10,000 if I’m on a roll). I can keep up that pace for a month or two, just long enough to get a full draft out of NANOWRIMO, but then I might not write again for a year.
Some of my writer friends seem to think my ability to write so many words in one sitting makes them the oddities because they can only manage 100-500 words a day.
There’s a competitive streak in every writer, I think. I’ve certainly encountered it enough in the writing and roleplaying worlds: “she wrote more than me in that post”, “I have to meet her word for word”, “I’m terribly sorry but I can’t write as much as you”.
Maybe that all matters when you’re published. Maybe there’s a point where quantity is just as important as quality. Certainly, I encourage you to write like the wind in your early drafts and forget about all the technical stuff that goes into making a written piece great.
But I also call bullshit, guys. Writing is like the story of the tortoise and the hare; I might write faster than you, and someone else might write faster than me, but we’ll all get there in the end.
Go your own way
Set your own pace. Decide what you can realistically manage every day. If you write more, great! Pat yourself on the back, give yourself a lollipop, and move on.
If you consistently write less, adjust your daily goal.
The point of having a daily target isn’t to frustrate the hair out of your scalp because you failed again, but to give you something to work towards.
If a word count doesn’t work for you, tell yourself to write for twenty minutes every day instead.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Some of us can slog through an 8-hour writing day because we’ve got nothing else to do.
Some of us can hyper-focus and churn out 5,000 words in an hour, then not write again until the weekend.
Some of us can squeeze 100 words out of our lunch break or twenty minutes out of a bus ride.
Some of us have to sneak a few post-its while the toddler’s asleep.
We all have our methods and our madness; comparing one writer to another is like comparing apples to oranges. Set a goal for yourself and that works for you and stop worrying what everyone else is doing.
Keep a tracker
Keeping a writing tracker is great way to determine realistic standards for yourself. If you know you can write 1000 words but you only write 100, you can try harder next time. But if you know you can only write 500 words, then there’s no point fretting that you only managed 498.
You might even start to see trends showing when you write the most and the least — data you can then use to maximise your output.
After all, what’s the point in trying to write before you’ve had your morning coffee if you do better right after lunch?
What’s your pace?
Just for the sake of curiosity, and to maybe prove my point that we’re all different, I want to know what your writing pace is. Do you splurge like me and then dry up for a month or a year or more? Do you write an exact 500 words every day? Do you count by pages in a notebook or by time on a clock?
Do you benefit from trying to best someone else, like NANOWRIMO’s word wars, or are you crippled by the thought that someone else can write more than you in a day?