March Update: How Many Words Are Enough?


At the start of the year I decided I set myself the goal of releasing four books in 2017. I recently sat down and did some rough maths to figure out how many words I need to write per day to achieve that. I discovered, rather unsurprisingly, that it would require a pace that’s just unrealistic to keep up every day. So I decided that instead of rushing out content I’m not satisfied with, I’m scaling back my expectations made during that naive period of New Year enthusiasm and aiming to release a more realistic target of three books this year.

The Maths

Working 5 days per week (everyone needs a few days off sometimes) gives me ~20 days per month.

3 books per year means I get 4 months to spend writing each book, so that’s 80 days.

6 drafts at ~80,000 words each means 480,000 words written/edited per book.

480,000/80 = 6,000 words written/edited per day.

So that’s my target daily wordcount to stay on schedule and release 3 books this year. I’ve been keeping to it for a couple of weeks now, and it seems achievable. I wrote a post about the wordcounts of some famous writers back in 2015 when I took part in Nanowrimo. Back then I was averaging just over 2,500 words per day, so I’m happy with the progress I’ve made with my productivity since then.

The downside of all this is that I’ve hardly found any time for reading so far this year, which as a writer, is a shameful thing to admit. Also my blog has suffered, with my posts coming nowhere near as frequently as I had hoped at the start of the year. (Weekly posts? Hah, past me was so naive).

So what do you think, is 6,000 words a day too many or not enough? How many words do you write per day? Every writer is different, and I’m always interested in other people’s methods, so let me know in the comments below.

Current Project


Solace Within, the second book in the post-apocalyptic Fielding series and follow-up to my first book, Forged in the Dawn, is coming along well. In a couple of weeks it’ll be nearing completion, however I’m holding off on rushing it through and releasing by the end of March like I originally planned. Instead, I’ll be pushing it back a month to line up with my new 2017 schedule. An extra benefit being that I get more time to polish the finished product and make sure it’s up to a standard I’m satisfied with before releasing.

Planned Release: April 2017.

If you would like to follow my work, you can keep up to date with progress on all my writing from my current projects page, otherwise you can follow my blog for updates.

Other Random Stuff

Despite having already been covered a million times, I’ve been thinking about making a post on the subject of opening lines for a while now. Until I find time, here’s a Reddit discussion on people’s favourite opening lines in a fantasy book.

I stumbled over this song by Weird Al Yankovic and it made my day. Anyone with an affinity for words or irrational hatred of the lazy way people talk on social media will appreciate this one.

Lastly, here’s a video of the rockstar author Neil Gaiman himself giving out some advice for aspiring writers from a couple of years back. Pretty inspiring stuff.

So that’s my update for March. TL:DR is things are moving forward and my next book is coming out soon, but it’s at the expense of finding time for everything else I want to do.

I hope your own writing/reading projects are going well. Until next time, never give up, never surrender.

Solace Within images Copyright © 2016 Gavin Zanker


Final Drafts And Grounded Expectations


A few days ago I finished the latest draft of my first book, focusing on consistency and final story touches. Now my story makes sense and is actually readable from start to finish! It’s come a long way from the tiny 30,000 word first draft that kept me awake at night to the 80,000+ word novel with plot and characters and all that fun stuff. It feels like quite an achievement to get to this point, even though it took much much longer than I originally expected.

Now I’m about to start the final prose pass – checking for passive voice, removing to be and thought verbs, pushing showing over telling etc. My deadline is the end of the month, and then I’ll send it out to my beta readers to get some feedback.

‘Each line must have its own power, its own juice. Bim bim bim!’

– Bukowsi

I believe the story I wrote is an interesting one, but since it’s my first novel I don’t expect it to be winning any awards. I’m a believer in the principle of the 10,000 hour rule and nothing I write before a certain level of mastery is going to be consistently awesome. I can read back through my work and see flickers of writing that I think are decent, but rather than spend the next year polishing pebbles, I’m ready to move on and use what I’ve learned on the next book.

So I have a busy week of editing ahead of me, but I can see the finish line now and I can’t wait to call my first book completed. My brain is already brimming over with ideas for the next one.

Photo by photosteve101 licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic .

Gender Division Of Boys’ And Girls’ Books

Grandfather and Grandson Reading

I just read an article by Robin Stevens in The Guardian in which she talks about being invited to speak at a school, but only to the female students. She explains that because her series of books star two girls as main characters, people always assume that her books are written exclusively for girls.

‘About isn’t the same as for – we should never limit readers to books featuring characters identical to themselves.’

I found myself agreeing with most of what she said in the article. No child should be prevented from showing interest in books or media because the protagonist doesn’t share their gender or viewpoint. I mean, I was completely absorbed in watching Orange Is The New Black and that had an almost entirely female cast. I enjoyed it because it was well written and had interesting characters – the aspect of gender never even entered my head.

Anyway, then I came to the last few paragraphs in the article and immediately rolled my eyes as the argument quickly tilted in to the usual feminist ideology. The author of the article declared that boys are the problem and need to be educated to see girls differently.

‘If boys don’t read about or watch girls being heroes, they won’t believe such things are possible.’

No mention of girls not being interested in boyish subjects and themes, or any desire to change their perception of boys. Just a one-sided argument declaring that boys are wrong for not sharing the same interests as girls. Am I the only one that sees a double-standard? I could even argue, in this age where western women are essentially invulnerable from any forms of criticism and often have to take no responsibility for their own actions, that if any gender needed their perception changing for the good of the other, it’s the girls’ and not the boys’.

But at the end of the day, no one should be forcing their agenda on to children. Kids should be allowed to be interested in whatever it is they want to be interested in, regardless of their gender. Let them read what they like and stop trying to change who they are because of your own perceptions.

© 2016, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Photo by Johanna Loock licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.