Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by.
I could have called this post, Doing the Math, but I thought that might scare some of y’all off :). I have been musing about how much I should be able to accomplish this summer with my goal of 500 words a day at least five days a week.
I am currently working on a middle grade novel. Although there is variation in word counts, I would say an average word count for the first draft of a middle grade novel is about 50,000 words. (Wondering about word counts? Here’s a post from Chuck Sambuchino that gives a good head start on the subject.).
So, I started doing the math - if I wrote 500 words a day, 5 days a week (2500 words a week), it should take me about 20 weeks to write a first draft of my middle grade novel. Wait… that can’t be right. So I did the math again: 50,000 words / 2500 words a week = 20 weeks, which is only about 4 ½ months. If I wrote 500 words every day - my non-summer goal - then I could hit 50,000 words in 14 ½ weeks, which is a little more than three months.
I looked back at my documents. I wrote the first page of this particular novel on September 4th, 2012. As of today, that was 21 months ago. That’s 91 weeks! In theory, if I would have been consistently writing at my 500 word, five day a week goal, I could have written four middle grade novels in that time. Wow.
I know, I know, life doesn’t always work out that way. With all that’s been going on the past few years, I’m not really thinking that I could have written four novels.
So I started timing myself. Most days, I can write 500 words on a first draft in about 45 minutes. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but that is a reasonable estimate. So it makes me think - have I had a free 45 minutes each day over the past 21 months? Some days - honestly no. Many days our family’s schedule, especially now that I’ve gone back to graduate school, is filled to the brim. But other days, do I waste 45 minutes on the internet (even if it’s on writing related articles), on my iPhone, checking email, or watching House Hunters International? You bet.
What does this all mean? I’m choosing not to use this information to beat myself up over my lack of progress. I have worked on other writing projects, picture book manuscripts and lots of graduate school homework during this time. But I have to admit it has been eye-opening for me to look at my statistics. And in a way, it has been inspirational. It makes this never-ending goal of writing a novel seem achievable. Just the fact that if I can write 2500 words a week, I can have a first draft in about 4 ½ months (as opposed to 21+ months) motivates me. That seems like an attainable goal.
What do y’all think? Does this inspire or discourage you? I know some writers have even larger word count goals each day - just think what you can accomplish!
Do you want to join my summer reading and writing challenge? The directions are here on my previous post. Set your own goals and let’s work together to make these writing dreams a reality!
Take care, McCourt