Chronicles of Mar Word Count: 283,474

After being nearly 3000 words behind target last week, I’m back on track again. But boy, has it been a struggle. I’ve been trying to hit my daily word count of 1000 words, but then adding a few hundred or so more each day to fill the gap. I can get to the thousand easily enough, but then it’s just like wading through treacle trying to get the next two or three hundred. My hands turn to stumps of useless ham, my brain seizes up and not make words good.

What’s weird, is that I know there’s nothing particularly difficult about getting past that 1000 word mark. Every November, when I’m doing Nanowrimo, that word count becomes 1667 for 30 days, and there hasn’t been a single year that I’ve not hit that. But as soon as I drop the target back down, I can’t get anywhere beyond it with any sense of ease. And I’m all about a sense of ease.

Isn’t it weird the way our minds work? If you sit someone down and tell them to write a thousand words, they’d look at you like you’re a mad person. But if that same person sets themselves a daily thousand word target, they can get into that groove pretty easily. Ask them to go above that, and you’re right back to being a mad person. Maybe you are, maybe that’s not a sensible thing to go around telling people to do.

It’s got me thinking, though. I’ve set myself a thousand words a day target, because that’s fairly manageable on a daily basis when you’ve got a job, a family, blog posts to write, and a small business to run. Oh, and a dog, and a burgeoning podcast addiction to feed. A thousand words is not going to exhaust you, but it’s also going to get you about three books worth of working first draft a year, or roughly once finished novel a year. Not too shabby. It’s also fairly self-sustaining. Write a thousand words today, you can do it tomorrow.

But, if it’s not a matter of how many words are in the target, but rather the consistency of the target, surely I could stretch myself, and get loads more words under my belt? Rather than 1000 words, I could double it to 2000 words and get twice as much. I could literally double my yearly output. Or, hell, I could bump it up to 5000 words a day, and get a first draft done every single month.

Or, maybe I’m still thinking too small. I could set myself a 50,000 word target each day, and have a first draft done every other day, write enough books in a year to keep me going until retirement. I mean, I know that sounds utterly mad, the kind of thing only a lunatic could attempt and get away with. But maybe my untested scientific hypothesis is correct, and it’s all about consistency.

I’m going to try it. Let’s get this word factory pumping, see what it can do!

Two hours later: I cannot, it turns out, write 50,000 words in a day. This has been folly. I wrote, as per usual, a thousand words. No more, no less. I guess that’ll have to do, except for every November, when I can achieve marginally better. I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson here.

Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list.

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