Writers write, but how much?

thI write a lot. I know I write a lot, but when I actually count the words I’m writing, it doesn’t seem like a lot.

I write 16-20 newspaper columns and magazine articles a month and probably average two books a year. That seems like a lot to me, but there’s so much more that I want to do, I wonder if I couldn’t push myself more to help clear that logjam of ideas that I have.

I tell my students that writers write so despite everything else that they may need to do as a freelance writer or independent author, they need to write each day. That’s easier said than done. For instance, yesterday I didn’t do any writing. I did a lot of research, interviewing, transcribing older interviews and marketing, but I didn’t do any writing.

That was discouraging, especially when I listened to a podcast interview in the evening and the author being interviewed was saying how at a minimum he writes about 500 words an hour and usually it’s closer to 2,000 words.

Wow. I shoot for 1,500 words a day. At that guy’s pace, I could have my daily writing done in 45 minutes.

One way that I’ve tried to combat this day-to-day variation in my schedule is to set a weekly total rather than a daily total. So my goal is to do 9,000 words a week (six days a week with Sundays off). I was making strong progress in meeting this and then October came along. Into my normal daily writing work, I had to add six classes I had to teach, four presentations, two festivals, and a weekend of required Boy Scout training. That much extra stuff sends my weekly totals tumbling.

So I’m trying to build back up again. I’m doing well today. I’ve written about 1800-1900 words, but I’ve still got to make up for doing nothing yesterday. I should be able to, though. At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Do you set writing goals for yourself? What are they? How well do you do at keeping them? Does having a goal give you something to strive for or something to feel guilty about if you miss it?

Yes, I do feel guilty when I miss a target, but that doesn’t stop me from trying again. I know that having a goal makes me push myself a bit more. Maybe not enough sometimes, but I do know there have been times, where I’ve felt like stopping my writing and then looked at how close my goal was. “Just a few hundred more words!”

So get writing! Put your butt in your chair and start typing whether it’s an article or short story, first draft or final edit, get something on paper that wasn’t there yesterday. You’re a writer!

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