Come On, Own Up, How Many?


Here is a question for all my fellow writers, both published like myself, and those who just love to write for the sheer joy of doing so. How many hours do you spend writing each day and how many words is usually involved?

Ever since I changed the way I write from how I used to in the past, when I would spend hours to achieve a daily word count in the thousands, I now stick rigidly to a short but extremely intense daily session. I find this is the method that works best for me. If you are wondering how long, these days I limit myself to adding no more than one to two hundred words per day. In my case I start writing at five in the morning, finishing promptly at eight am. I find that to continue beyond that three hour working window of 100% concentration, means that silly errors will inevitably begin to creep in due to my state of total mental exhaustion by the end of each session.

The rest of the day is taken up with a lot of thought about where the story wants me to go next, not the other way round, while I carry on with my normal daily activities. You must remember that a story is a living thing…

Years ago when I was still in the workforce I used to spend two to three hours writing each night from Monday until Friday. Then on the weekends I would write for twelve hours on both days. On public holidays the number of hours sometimes stretched from twelve to eighteen. While to the unitiated, endlessly pouring out words might seem to be the only way to write a story, trust me when I tell you it isn’t! In fact its often the worst possible way of going about it. If you don’t believe me, just look at the hundreds of thousands of poorly written books out there by writers who convinced themselves that high daily word counts is the only way to go. A daily three hour session is by far the best way from my point of view.

I would love to hear how you go about it, but I know you lot of old. Most of you are too damned shy! Don’t just leave it up to the normal three or four regulars to comment. There is absolutely no excuse for you not joining in. You never know, you might even gain some useful ideas and tips on the subject from one another. So leave your thoughts for others to read as comments below this post.


60 thoughts on “Come On, Own Up, How Many?

  1. When I first started to write seriously I wrote five hours a day, studied literature in the evening, and often went for long walks around San Francisco with a journal.

    Now I find I can draft and finish an essay in about four hours if my mind is clear and I’m free of distraction. Some of the poems I’ve recently finished were started 20 years ago…some of the more vivid work as well.

    An interesting development is that the ideal format for blogging is my preferred way of setting words on the page.

    When I was a child I wanted to become a writer and somehow I did. I consider myself lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I write, I usually get up at 5 and sit out on the patio, typing until 6:30, when I have to get ready and go to work. On the weekends, I might write on the patio until the sun is up and the temperature rises. Some days I might not write a thing – I just sit looking at the screen and watch the sun come above the trees. Other days I get on a roll, I am in the zone and the words fly out (I love that). I wrote 120,000 words in 6 months, sticking to that schedule. Of course then, I spent the next year rewriting and editing (that I don’t like so much).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Because I moved house recently, and a lot of work needs doing to get the new home into a good state, I’m presently going through a transitional period, in which my writing is at a ‘whenever possible’ stage. But this will shortly end and I’ll be back to normal regime.
    How many words, how long I take, depend on my current WIP. If I’m in ‘creative’ mode, I’ll sit at the keyboard and tap the keys until my wife reminds me I ought to eat. I can sometimes write 5,000+ words in a session if the story is flowing well. But on other days I’ll manage 2 to 3,000. I don’t have a set time, though.
    When I’m editing, a task that requires deeper conscious concentration, I work until I feel I’m no longer doing the best I can. Some days that will be a mere two hours, others I may continue for eight or nine with breaks.
    For me, the story takes as long as the story takes. But I’m not restricted as so many are by trying to produce perfection in a first draft. I always write the whole story before I even re-read or begin the editing process. The two jobs require different parts of the brain and it’s a big mistake, for me, to allow the grammar policeman in on the act until I’ve finished the creative work.
    Of course, I also write a blog, like you, Jack. And I always review the books I read; more writing.
    But writing is a craft that requires our attention. If you neglect it for too long, it takes time to get back into the zone. And the more you write, the better you become at it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m usually up at 5 a.m., fix some tea or coffee (depending on my mood), turn on the computer and bring up my wips. I write until breakfast (usually around 7 a.m.) then I spend time cleaning the kitchen then back to the computer. My writing takes place pretty much until around noon when my eyes become tired and I stop writing and have lunch. Word length varies between 600 (usable) words to over 2,000 words on a good day (plenty of sunshine and no non-writing interruptions). As I recall, my best writing day exceeded 6,000 words. I almost always have multiple wips up and switch back and forth from each of them as ideas come to me (two murder mystery novels, short story manuscripts, and poetry compositions). I’ve been known to leave all my wips up throughout the day and work on them when inspired to do so but rarely are my afternoon or evening sessions as creative or productive as the early morning ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I broke my process into “hard” and “soft” writing. Hard writing is actually writing the story, physically getting the words out and as you mentioned, can go anywhere from an hour to 12 (I work full time). Soft writing might still involve me at the keyboard, but it’s everything that goes into the back end: world-building, thinking about plots, themes, characters, dialogue, what’s working or not. I might not write a word to my actual story draft but 10k might go into a reference document.
    That said, I’m still working on my process so this is what’s working for me right now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Apart from the odd weekend a month when I’m away, I’m up with the lark and write before work seven days a week, walk the dog, then after work I’ll write till bed, with breaks for necessary chores and playing with Ani. Of course, that sounds productive, but a lot of that writing time is taken up with things like student journals, stuff for the blog and keeping in touch with people… as well as all the other writerly pursuits. Like thinking, making more coffee and research. Word counts I never look at.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I spend two or three hours per day writing. It’s usually mornings and evenings. Morning walks at sunrise allow me to gather my thoughts and provide inspiration. My methods are varied. I keep a file of disjointed ideas and phrases–that I hope will someday come together.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m really bad with regular schedules due to a sleeping disorder, don’t pay attention to word counts until the final draft is done, and only watch the clock if I have an appointment I need to keep, so this is actually a tricky question for me.

    I always get at least a few words written on one project or another (I’ve usually got a couple on the go at once) but exactly how much is done in a day depends on my sleeping schedule at the time, what else I need to get done that day, and how well my creative juisces are flowing.

    On a bad day this means I spend only maybe 10 minutes writing, and only write a sentence or two. On a good day this means I get a few hours writing time in, and write the entire first draft of something, or a couple of poems, or a couple of chapters (depending on the projects I’m working on at the time).

    On the days when I get a lot of writing in, this is sometimes just a solid couple of hours, but other times I’ll write for a while, take a break and do something else, and then do more writing later.

    Not a very straight answer, I’m afraid, but it’s the best answer I can give to your question.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I rarely look at word count. I write until I feel I have something good on the page. I like to exercise before writing. This seems to wake up my brain. If I can’t write on a particular day I read “how to write” books or do some research. The creativity comes back when it’s ready. My process changes throughout the year, so I don’t pressure myself too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s confession time Kristina. When I’m not writing, apart from everything else I spend a lot of time researching various aspects concerned factual items within my current WIP. 🙂


  10. The thread is really interesting, and I can relate to many of the experiences. I don’t have a fixed number of hours per day, but I always write something (even if it’s in my car between assignments!) I’m not a morning person, so I envy those of you who can begin early in the morning and write something productive! I’m a night owl, so most of my writing gets done then. I don’t give myself a target, I’m not good with those. I normally write until my characters have nothing left to say and pick up wherever I left off the following day, unless I’m editing. I can touch type as well, which comes in handy because seventy five percent of the time I write my first draft by hand 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I like to remove life’s inconveniences first or they intrude and I can’t concentrate.Usually get into actually writing after lunch til suppertime. Mornings and evenings, I like to catch up on blogging, email and reading. I volunteer one morning a week and walk two mornings. The day gets used up fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I write when the spirit moves me. I’ve had editorials printed in three newspapers, but I have no desire to write a book. My mind travels too quickly from subject matter, and as I grow older I find it is not my words of wisdom that I wish to impart, but rather, I choose to read the words of others. Time is short. I want to learn by experiencing, vicariously, the life of those who inspire.

    Currently, I have posted two links from writers I greatly admire. Both young men will excel in life whether they continue to write or choose other professions.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It all depends on my life’s current circumstances. When I’m writing a new book I will commit to writing at least 1000 words 5 or 6 days a week, which could easily turn into more if I’m on a good roll. Blog writing and journaling also happen almost daily but at scattered intervals between everything else. Revisions are totally different, it could be a few hours a day, or a day if the attention span and flow are good. I also find myself writing ideas for other potential books or essays at unpredictable times. A writer’s life is so diverse it really is hard to clock. I used to be so disciplined to start writing as soon as I woke, but if life gets in the way I sometimes lose the creativity. I think it’s all about balance and commitment to ourselves, we set goals and try to live up to them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for following me. I try to write everyday, but I don’t have a computer, so it involves coming over to a friend’s house. How do I get a blog done like that? Marathon 11 hour sessions, and scheduling posts! Thank God I finally found out about that from Janice from Reflections.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.