If you write 1,000 words a day it can equal a lot a year. Here’s how:


If you write 1,000 words a day for six days a week for one year, you will have 313,000 words written by the end of the year.  Divide by four, and you will have four 78,250-word books in rough draft.

Your novel or nonfiction book may need to be a few thousand words more than that, but you can, no doubt, squeeze those words in before the end of the year.

Write a short story every month. = 12/year by writing 1,000/words or less one day a week.

Write an article every month. = 12/year when you have some extra time

At the end of one year you could have three novels, one non-fiction book, twelve short stories and twelve articles written.  This means that you have to do only two things:  Write 1,000 words a day, and edit 1,000 words a day, Monday through Friday, plus write and edit 1,000 words for your short story quota (could do 500 words in one story, and 500 in another, for example) every Saturday, and squeeze in that article when the mood strikes, but aim for one a month.



If you write 1,000 words/day, five days a week, you will have 261,000 words at the end of one year.  Divide by four, and you have exactly enough for four 65,250-word books.  Make one or two a bit shorter, and you can squeeze in a two-week vacation.

If you get most everything you write published, each will help sell the others.  Someone may read your nonfiction book and find out you wrote a mystery, so will try that out, or vice versa.  Someone may read a couple of your short stories or articles, see your bio, and decide to try one or more of your books.

The trickiest part is to keep up the pace and to make sure that if you edit out a whole chuck of one of your pieces that you also write enough words in that day to make up the deleted words.

Make up a chart for tracking how much you actually accomplish every day in a spreadsheet, and you will be amazed at how much you have done in just half a year.

Excuse me while I work on my second 500 words for the day. (But no, although I wish I could meet this goal, I haven’t yet. But there’s still time.)



8 thoughts on “WORD BY WORD

  1. That’s quite stunning when you see it spelled out that way. John Updike used to say, If you write a page a day, at the end of the year you’ll have a very long book. Your word count, Jan, is the same idea. There’s no excuse for any of us not to produce all the work we say we want to produce. Of course, some of us might keel over from exhaustion, but what’s a heart attack or two when you’re turning out great work?

    • Susan, I read that John Grisham wrote his first book at the rate of one page a day. If that’s all the time anyone has, that should work out really well. The main trick is to set the goal and keep at it every single day. Not saying I always hit the mark. But I’m always aware of it.

  2. Ant Jan, as always, your advice is practical and common sensical. We should set goals and work toward them. With me, if I wrote 1000 words a day, after editing and rewriting, I’d probably be left with 250. That’s okay. I could turn out two good books a year. Reminds me of this old yarn:

    “I had a good day! I wrote 3000 words.”
    “Good for you. I wrote 3 paragraphs.”
    “That’s all?”
    “Yes. But damn they were good.”

    • Well, Earl, I’ve always thought you over-thought your stuff. I suggest you look at some of your rough drafts and compare them to the finished, published product. Are they really that different? And are you positive they’re better? Would your readers be just as happy with most of what you put done originally as far as the story line is concerned? Something to think about.

      • Jan, you know me well and you’re right. I confess to being a chronic tinkerer. I need to let go sooner. I’m working on it. 😉

        • Earl, I hope you can. You know you’re a terrific writer, and you also know I wish you only the best. I suggest you give yourself a certain number of pass-throughs for each project, and stop when you’ve done the last one you’ve given yourself. Set it free! Actually, set the project and YOURSELF free!

  3. Hi, Jan,

    Just shows us that we should write consistently everyday. No point waiting the muse to inspire us. I really believe that’s the case. Writers need to write or they aren’t writers.

    • I totally agree with you, Jacqueline. If I stop for too long, it takes me too long to get back in the groove. In the end, writing every day helps me write faster and better. My pattern has become, write 1,000 words in the morning, spend the rest of the day thinking about the story off and on, sleep on it, get up and writer another 1,000 words. Works for me.

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