Thursday, 3 November 2016

What Your Daily Word Count Says About You by Charis Joy Jackson

Yesterday I wrote 2,054 words for my WIP. At first, I was pretty proud of myself, but then I started wondering if that number should be higher for an almost full day of writing. What did my word count say about me as a writer? Was I good enough?

I’ve always wondered if I could actually make it as a professional writer.

I imagine my dream lifestyle - living in some majestic place, full of epic mountains, verdant valleys, crystalline waterfalls and soaring eagles. Someplace I could spend my days sitting in a wing-backed chair with my laptop writing all day long. Even if the “magical place” was just a dingy room and I still had the luxury of writing all day and making a living doing this, could I make it?

The fear that this is just a hobby sneaks in a lot.

Or that even if I do have the opportunity to make it a career that I’ll dry up and have no more words to say. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe you’ve wondered too.

Well, after yesterday’s success, I was curious to know how many words the professionals write on a daily basis. My goal was to start writing the same word count as they did, because if I could do that, then I'd be a pro too, right? My word count would say so.

Famous Word Counts

Trying to google something like this was actually a bit more difficult than I thought, but in the end, I found one post that had a list of 39 Famous Authors and their daily word count. And it was much more comforting than I’d thought it would be.

Yes, there were authors like, Michael Crichton, who writes an average of 10,000 words a day! But the majority of these famous writers sat from 1,000 - 2,500 words a day. And another handful, Ernest Hemingway among them, sat around 500 - 600 words a day.

All in all, it was encouraging to know that some of the "Greats" sat so low on their daily word count.

But what did it say about them? Were they not as professional as others? Did they not take their writing as seriously as others?

This thought process reminded me of something even more important… It’s not how much you write each day, but that you stick to it and write something every day. Even if it’s only 10 words a day.


Even more importantly, it reminded me to not compare myself and my writing to other people and their writing. It's an easy game to get caught up in, but it will leave us feeling dissatisfied - even with the good things that happen. Take me for example, I had been proud of myself for how much I'd accomplished in one day, until I let comparison set in and take over that joy.

Every Word Counts

This last month, I took part in a writing challenge. It was simple enough. Write something every day. But with my busy schedule, this had even been too much for me on some days and it was easy to feel discouraged.

One of my friends, who was also part of the challenge asked me how I was doing and I told him it wasn’t going so well. I wasn’t the only one. There were a few others that were struggling too. Each time I complained, my friend James, reminde me of how good it was to at least be writing something. If I said I’d written something but wasn’t happy with the way it turned out, he encouraged me that at least I wrote something. Another time when I said it was going too slowly, he stopped me and said, “It all counts.”

Even something is better than nothing.


Get it out and on to paper or computer screen, whatever your preference.

So what does your daily word count say about you?

Well, let me tell you. It should tell you that you've accomplished something. You've put something out there. You've taken a step or several steps towards your end goal and you should celebrate that, be encouraged by the process instead of looking at the negative of it.

Be your biggest fan.

I was standing in line at an airport once and the man behind me had just been part of a writing conference in the city. We struck up a conversation about writing and when he asked me what I wrote. I started talking down about what I’d been writing and this man - this stranger, stopped me and said, “Don’t do that.” He went on to tell me how everyone else would critique my writing and tear it down, but I needed to be my biggest fan.

If you write. Do it and be your biggest fan. Enjoy the process and remember that every bit counts, whether you write only 10 words a day or 10,000, it all counts.

Each word you write is a step in the right direction, or to be punny: the write direction ;)

Charis Joy Jackson is working as a missionary with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organization & is part of The Initiative Production Company. She loves creating stories & is currently writing a novel, which she hopes to create into a seven part series.

Here's to a life lived in awe & wonder.
Welcome to the adventure.


  1. Thanks for your lovely post Charis. Well done for making a very promising start on NaNoWriMo. Your picture of the perfect writing environment grabbed me. :) Ah! Nice! Very nice.

    Personally, writing daily hasn't worked for me, the biggest issue being my health.
    when my body is screaning in pain (as it is today too alas) - it's very hard to think at all, let alone think creatively. I've also realised that my walk with God is more fundamental that my 'write life' - so if I need to drop my writing in order to listen to a hurting friend - that may be what God's calling me to do on that given day. So having writing goals with flexibility is what I aspire to. It's a comfort to know that some of the writing greats didn't churn out thousands of words. All the best for the writing month Charis. I know you will reach that mountain top and do it well. You go girl! :)

    1. Thanks Anusha! I totally understand the struggle. Sometimes writing every day is too much work, but as long as you're picking it up again, that's GREAT! Keep writing and trusting God with the timing of your creativity.

  2. Great post Charis. We need to figure out what goals work best for us, and stop making unnecessary comparisons.

    Personally, I find great value in trying to write every day (one of the main reasons I'm participating in NaNo, because it forces me to commit daily). I think the main reasons for this, is of course, Newton's first law of motion.

    When I've not been writing for a few days, it takes considerable effort to get myself moving again, but if I wrote yesterday, it's much easier to write today.

    1. So true! When I stay consistent it is definitely easier to pick up the next day!

  3. Oh, and feel free to add me as a NaNo buddy. I'm tassieboy

  4. Nice! I'll look for ya.Mine is CJJackson

  5. Great post, Charis. Writing every day (if possible) or at least regularly does help flow and momentum, in my experience. I loved that different totals (I wonder if some with smaller word counts wrote perfect first drafts) - and it shows that we all write differently. Welcome to NaNo

    1. That would be interesting to find out... It was really encouraging for sure.

  6. Thanks for this great post Charis. I want to write every day, but often life and pain get in the way. Also I never know what state my emotions will be in from one day to the next. I began NaNo today, but no sooner than I had started, my next door neighbour needed help. It involved a lot of running around as she doesn't have a car, and the situation was urgent. Finally I got back home at around 2pm and decided to do some writing. Let's face it nothing else had got done today, so what did I have to lose?
    After a couple of interrupted writing periods I threw in the towel. Leon went to the cardiologist at 3.30pm and got frustrating news. He's been lying down all day ... not well at all. My kitchen looks like a bomb has exploded in there, I didn't hang out the washing, but ... I wrote 1,111 words today. Yay! Thank goodness tomorrow is another day :-)

    1. Josephine-Anne!!! What an incredibly frustrating day, but WOW! What a great thing to celebrate! 1,111 words is a HUGE achievement. Well done!!!!! Especially for persevering through the tough situations.

  7. Great post, and so encouraging. I have many days when life gets in the way and very little is written, I need to remember this post and the advice from your friend and remember that every word counts :)

    1. Yes! Every word counts. Even if it's one or two words. At least you did something! ;) Hold on to tenacity. I know I'm constantly losing my grip, but the more we hang on to the positive, the more we'll push in for the next day :)

  8. Hi Charis. I wonder if we can count our blogs and special emails, book proposals and important letters that need to be written? It's all exercising our mind and keeping us sharp. I am a thinker before setting my words down. I mull over plot, dialogue and scenes before I ever write a word and then it all flows. A bit like filling a balloon with air and then letting go!

    1. Absolutely. Every word counts. Even these in the comments. If nothing else, we are practicing our craft, shaping sentences, so that when we go to write our novels, our fingers are warmed and our minds are ready :)

  9. I struggle with this all the time. If I don't write or don't write a lot of words when I do, I'm obviously not really a writer since I simply blog (and not that often these days) or not doing it right.

    "Even something is better than nothing."

    Thanks for this!