The Math says you should write 500 words a day. Obey the Math....

I realize I haven't talked much about New Year's Resolutions on this blog, which is probably a good thing.  I know many people who can make their resolutions interesting and inspiring, but I'm not really one of them. *grin*

But I did make a goal this year that I wanted to share.  To write 500 words a day.

I have to admit, when I first read the idea, (put up by awesome Nanowrimo leads Sam and Megan) I was a little skeptical.

"500 words. Well that's nice, but surely you need to write more than that at one sitting. I want to finish at least two more books this year."

Don't get me wrong, I liked the idea. I knew I could stick with it. But it didn't feel like enough.

And then I sat down and did the math.  (And when I say I did the math, I mean I took the math to my Very Smart Husband and let him do it.)

Here's what we came up with:  500 x 365 = 182,500.

182,500 words.

That's a LOT of words. And it's about three times the number of words I wrote in 2009.

And what happens when you divide that up into actual books?  To help you out, here's a word count breakdown from agent Colleen Lindsey.

middle grade fiction = Anywhere from about 25k to 40k, with the average at about 35k

YA fiction = Anywhere from about 50k to 80k; sometimes - but rarely - goes above 90k (usually for the second or third in a particularly bestselling series; rarely for a debut).

urban fantasy / paranormal romance = Usually around the 80k to 100k mark; some bestselling urban fantasy writers are able to turn in even higher word counts, but as a debut author, stick to the appropriate range.

mysteries and crime fiction = Cozies tend to be shorter than the average, somewhere around the 60k to 70k mark; most other books that fall into this category fall right around the 80k to 100k mark.

mainstream fiction = Depending upon the kind of fiction, this can vary: chick lit runs anywhere from 80k word to 100k words; literary fiction can run as high as 120k but lately there's been a trend toward more spare and elegant literary novels as short as 65k; thrillers also run in somewhere around the 90k to 100k mark; historical fiction can run as high as 140k words or more

 So whatever you write, 500 words a day will get you a full book a year, maybe two.  In my case, 500 words would get me at least one YA novel and one MG novel with plenty of room to spare.

And the real beauty of this is that 500 words a day leaves me ample time for revising other projects, continuing my agent search and getting everything ready for my book launch. (Which I still don't have an actual date for, sadly.)

So it's official. I'm on the 500 train!

Anyone want to join me?


  1. If I could get 500 seconds of finalized long form production out the door each day that would be fantastic. That is 8min of final product, and when talking about a long form production like a cinematic wedding narrative that runs 45-60min, that is a breakneck editing pace.

    The real trick is in how to measure those 500 seconds when considering there is significant time spent (days) just on audio, and (days) just on color correction & grading.

  2. Yay for you! It's a great goal.
    I tend to do things in clumps. Spend days writing 2K words a day and then spend other days (and weeks) doing nothing but revising. But always working on the writing.
    have fun!

  3. I like the sound of the 500 train, chugging down the track. To me, it gives plenty of editing leeway, too, as I usually cut out significantly in an edit.

  4. I'm not good on resolutions. I seem to self-defeat them as soon as I make them. 500 words a day does sound reasonable, though. I think I'll track my writing and see what I'm doing now. That would be a good place to start. Thanks for the challenge and the listing of word counts for different types of books.

    Straight From Hel

  5. Yeah, when you break it down like that, 500 doesn't seem like that much. Good luck with it!

  6. I like the sound of 500 words a day! Feasible, reasonable, exciting.

  7. Jason- Hmmm... Maybe you should divide it up into hours instead? 1-2 hours a day, maybe? Or even less, if deadline allows. At least when you're finished, you're finished. I've still got a couple months of rewrites after the first draft is done!

    PJ- Thanks! I love how different writers do different things. I used to do things in clumps, but found I can't keep myself motivated to finish new stuff that way. (Not enough internal drive, I guess.) *grin*

    Joanne- That's the beauty of it. It gives a lot of leeway in all areas. And plenty of time for photography and blogging! ;)

  8. Helen- You're welcome! I'm not great a resolutions either, sadly. Especially housecleaning and fitness ones. :)

    Elana- Thanks! That's one of the things I like about it, it's not as overwhelming.

    Wendy- You should join us... Join us... Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies... Heehee!


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