poetry and prose about place

writing a novel – words, words, words

with 2 comments

I have kept close track of my progress during the writing of my novel.

I began writing my novel ‘Saving the Landing Church’ on November 1, 2012.  By November 18, I had a short story of 14,432 words.  After November 18, each day, before I saved the document, I took a word count.  This helped me feel productive and let me decide when it was time to start editing the first draft.  In the graph below, you can see the number of words I had on each day after November 18 (Day 1).

During the writing, I decided 60,000 words would be a good goal.  At first, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to reach this many words.  By December 9 (Day 22), I had reached 50,000 words, the story was almost told, and I knew I would reach my goal.     Around Day 26, at a little less than 60,000 words, I was beginning to edit.

total words written at end of day


I also made a graph to show how many words I wrote per day.  My daily goal was 2000 words, as Stephen King recommends in his book On Writing (Schribner, 2000).  Until my editing phase (beginning Day 26), my production was highly variable.  However, I usually wrote more than 1000 words per day.  I had four very productive days when I wrote more than 3000 words.

number words per day

I hope this might help you to be aware of your productivity when writing.

I know that quantity does not equal quality.  I also know that, during editing, my word count could begin to be in the negative.  But, during the phase of producing the first draft,  I do think the number of words is a useful indicator for a writer who wants to make progress on a particular project.


Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 7, 2013 at 7:17 am

2 Responses

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  1. How many words are an average novel anyway? (yes, yes, I know they can be anything from 300-1000 pages, but you know, average? Or minimum?)



    January 7, 2013 at 7:45 am

    • Hi. Some novels have a lot! Les Miserables, one of the longest ever written, has about 531,000 words. Stephen King says 130,000 words is a decent length. I aimed for 60,000 words because I wanted to match some of the books I read which are usually 50,000 to 100,000 words. Jane


      jane tims

      January 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

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