2000 Words A Day: My Daily Word Count

As I described in my post about my writing schedule, I have a certain method I go about writing. My writing, at least how I treat it, is a business. Going to the coffee shop is like going to the “office”. And once at the “office” 2000 words is my daily quota, just as a salesman might have his quota.

Where did I get this number? Stephen King mentioned the number in his book On Writing. Every day he commits himself to 2000 words before he does anything else. Judging by the size of his books I figured it had to have some merit.

My aim is 2000 words a day, but if it doesn’t happen I try not to get all fussed about it. Although I do feel more productive if I’m able to hit my quota, I also don’t write every single day. Throughout 2013 I noticed I averaged about 15 days of writing per month. I don’t time myself but I do try to fall in line with my nest hours. My “power hours” so to say, are often in the morning but they do change every now and then. At any rate, I often judge my productivity by how many words I’ve written. If it’s over 2000 then I’m usually satisfied with the day’s work, even if most of it will be edited and revised (re: tossed out).

What do I write about if I have such a high word quota?

Generating topics to write about isn’t tough, but fleshing out those ideas into readable posts is a bit tougher. Travel has been a huge inspiration to write, while music, movies, and books have provided other inspirations. Many of the music and movie reviews you find on this site were actually writing assignments I gave myself. Whenever I listen to a CD, read a book or watch a movie, I try to write a paragraph (around 150-250 words) about it. It might include how I came across the item, about the cinematography or writing style, or whatever intrigued me about the item. Do four of those and you already have 1000 words. It breaks down like this:

  • A CD review – 150-250 words
  • A movie review – 150-250 words
  • A book review – 150-250 words
  • A movie scene – 300-500 words
  • A blog post – 500-1000 words (average is 800)
  • A book chapter – 2000-5000 words (an average book has 250 words per page).

Is 2000 words a magical target? The thing about 2000 words is that it’s a solid goal to have in mind.. Don’t kid yourself, it’s not easy. I’ve found that I average about 1000 words an hour on most days. Some articles seem to just flow out and don’t require much editing. Others might require substantial revision. You could also write 1000 words a day if you like, or 4000.

Why would you want to write so much?

The more you write the more you build up your endurance, both physical and mental. Getting to the point where I could write 2000 words wasn’t easy. When I first began using that 2000-word daily target I found it very draining. As I continue to write, however, it’s gotten easier. Although I don’t hit that target every day (in 2013 I averaged somewhere between 940 and 1050 words a day), it is my goal. At first it was difficult to come up with ideas to write about. Then the challenge became to write down everything I knew in a clear writing style. Even now, some days I only write a few hundred words, other days I’ll write thousands. If I have the time, I’ll keep writing until I can’t think of anything else to write.

Remember all of those university or high school essays that seemed to take forever to write? Well a lot of that had to do with lack of practice in regard to researching, writing, editing and publishing/printing. For me, aiming for 2000 words helped me build up my endurance and, as I came up with more ideas, became better at going with the creative flow, that is, tapping into my creative energy whether it was for a history, opinion or other piece. Along the way I’ve developed a “catalog” of articles that I can publish at will. I don’t use all the stuff I write but at least I’m practicing my craft.

Finally, I like to keep a daily word count if only for the visual satisfaction of knowing that I’ve met my target. I track my word count in a spreadsheet on a daily, monthly and annual basis. Then, I’ll divide my total word count by the number of days I wrote that month and year to get an average daily word count. Not only does this tally keep me focused on the job at hand (attaining my 2000-word quota), but it helps me remember the days that I was very productive and days that I wasn’t so productive.

I hope that helps. As with many things, the hardest part is starting so I hope this gives you a goal to keep in mind. Good luck and have fun!