There is no denying that if you want to be a writer you must write something every day. And it helps if you set yourself a daily goal. The problem is that no one really knows what the goal might be.
Famous authors have a wide range of daily word production. Anthony Trollope, for example, wrote 3,000 words a day (pounding out 250 words every quarter of an hour, timed on his watch), while Graham Greene stuck rigidly to a mere 500, and stopped when he had reached his target, even though he might have been in the middle of a scene.
Modern authors seem quite prolific by comparison, Norman Mailer and Iain Banks matching the Trollopian 3000 word count, while Stephen King (2000) and Lee Childs (1800), are a little further behind.
Personally, I don’t think it matters what the word count is, as long as you write regularly. But I was intrigued by an article on the online writing source Writers Write, which has a table of the daily word counts of famous authors, with an amusing, interesting quote from each of them.
The table is reproduced below, and you can see a larger version online by clicking here.
When authors are around, however, I am much more interested in words than numbers and I love some of those quotes. “Writer’s block is only a failure of the ego,” had to be Norman Mailer, didn’t it? And, depressing, but true, Michael Crichton (an extraordinry 10,000 a day man) says “Books aren’t written, they are rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it:”
My favourite is Somerset Maugham: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Rules or no rules, if you want to be a writer, get writing!
*Our writing course with Jo Parfitt at the Watermill this year is already fully booked, but if you fancy coming, don’t despair: there are often cancellations. Please get in touch via the Watermill Contact Form (by clicking here) and we will put you on a waiting list.
17 – 24 June 2023 – fully booked, waiting list open
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