originally published on CWD
Yesterday I wrote 2,054 words for my WIP. At first, I was pretty proud of myself, but then I started wondering if that number should be higher for an almost full day of writing. What did my word count say about me as a writer? Was I good enough?
I’ve always wondered if I could actually make it as a professional writer.
I imagine my dream lifestyle - living in some majestic place, full of epic mountains, verdant valleys, crystalline waterfalls and soaring eagles. Someplace I could spend my days sitting in a wing-backed chair with my laptop writing all day long. Even if the “magical place” was just a dingy room and I still had the luxury of writing all day and making a living doing this, could I make it?
The fear that this is just a hobby sneaks in a lot.
Or that even if I do have the opportunity to make it a career that I’ll dry up and have no more words to say. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe you’ve wondered too.
Well, after yesterday’s success, I was curious to know how many words the professionals write on a daily basis. My goal was to start writing the same word count as they did, because if I could do that, then I'd be a pro too, right? My word count would say so.
Famous Word Counts
Trying to google something like this was actually a bit more difficult than I thought, but in the end, I found one post that had a list of 39 Famous Authors and their daily word count. And it was much more comforting than I’d thought it would be.
Yes, there were authors like, Michael Crichton, who writes an average of 10,000 words a day! But the majority of these famous writers sat from 1,000 - 2,500 words a day. And another handful, Ernest Hemingway among them, sat around 500 - 600 words a day.
All in all, it was encouraging to know that some of the "Greats" sat so low on their daily word count.
But what did it say about them? Were they not as professional as others? Did they not take their writing as seriously as others?
This thought process reminded me of something even more important… It’s not how much you write each day, but that you stick to it and write something every day. Even if it’s only 10 words a day.
Even more importantly, it reminded me to not compare myself and my writing to other people and their writing. It's an easy game to get caught up in, but it will leave us feeling dissatisfied - even with the good things that happen. Take me for example, I had been proud of myself for how much I'd accomplished in one day, until I let comparison set in and take over that joy.
Every Word Counts
This last month, I took part in a writing challenge. It was simple enough. Write something every day. But with my busy schedule, this had even been too much for me on some days and it was easy to feel discouraged.
One of my friends, who was also part of the challenge asked me how I was doing and I told him it wasn’t going so well. I wasn’t the only one. There were a few others that were struggling too. Each time I complained, my friend James, reminde me of how good it was to at least be writing something. If I said I’d written something but wasn’t happy with the way it turned out, he encouraged me that at least I wrote something. Another time when I said it was going too slowly, he stopped me and said, “It all counts.”
Even something is better than nothing.
Get it out and on to paper or computer screen, whatever your preference.
So what does your daily word count say about you?
Well, let me tell you. It should tell you that you've accomplished something. You've put something out there. You've taken a step or several steps towards your end goal and you should celebrate that, be encouraged by the process instead of looking at the negative of it.
Be your biggest fan.
I was standing in line at an airport once and the man behind me had just been part of a writing conference in the city. We struck up a conversation about writing and when he asked me what I wrote. I started talking down about what I’d been writing and this man - this stranger, stopped me and said, “Don’t do that.” He went on to tell me how everyone else would critique my writing and tear it down, but I needed to be my biggest fan.
If you write. Do it and be your biggest fan. Enjoy the process and remember that every bit counts, whether you write only 10 words a day or 10,000, it all counts.
Each word you write is a step in the right direction, or to be punny: the write direction ;)