Am I Writing Too Little?

Musings from a workaholic

Many creatives frequently struggle with the question of how much time they should be spending on their craft. I often find myself falling into the trap of believing I’m not doing enough, and I can churn out 2-3 polished books in year!

How can we overcome the feeling of not having worked enough, or gotten enough words on the page, or even spent enough time editing?

Well, to me, the answer lies in starting at the end.

What do I mean by the end? You have to know what your goals are. For example, do you hope to write one novel a year (a lofty goal, depending on your schedule, the complexity of your novel, and even your genre)? Or, alternatively, maybe you are an author who wants to write a short story each month. Wherever you lie on this spectrum, determine what your goal is.

From there, calculate a daily word count goal. In our world, word counts are the most trusted way to measure writing. Publishers use them, agents use them, and most of us writers use them to assess progress!

My personal daily word count goal is 500 words minimum per project. I don’t care how many projects I’m working on at once (usually, it’s just one), I want to hit at least 500 words on each. This means I can write three novels a year if they are 60,000 words, though it doesn’t take into account the months of editing I do on each novel.

Nevertheless, you have your word count goal, and now you shave 10% off. Why? Often, we overestimate how much we can do in a day. Life has a tendency to throw unexpected tasks and responsibilities our way, so it’s good to be honest with ourselves and account for these. So, if you chose 1000 words daily, for example, aim for a more reasonable 900.

After all the above is set and done, when you have a realistic and fair word count goal based on your goals, you’ll know what you need to do each day. If you go above it, great.

BUT if you miss a goal, please don’t be hard on yourself. Let the bar for success reset each day, and don’t sweat it too much. It’s often the case that the days you exceed the word count balance out the days you don’t!

Happy writing friends :)