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


Writing Productivity And Word Counts

Pen Writing

When I first started writing, I decided it was important to develop the habit and follow the repeated advice to ‘write every day’. To begin with I would time myself by setting an alarm on my phone to make sure I spent at least a few hours a day writing. This quickly became a chore for me though. Every writer knows that some days it comes easy and some days it feels like drawing blood from a stone. Forcing myself to sit there for hours at a time on those bad days, desperately trying not to watch the clock while I tortuously got nowhere was unproductive, and more importantly made me unhappy with what I was doing. I love writing and somehow I had managed to turn it in to a chore.

So after a few weeks of struggling, I decided to change my approach. I stopped writing for set amounts of time and instead gave myself a target word count every day. I mentioned in one of my posts last month (A Writer’s Daily Word Count) that Stephen King writes 2,000 words per day without fail. Well, that seemed doable so I stole his goal and made it my own. I quickly found that without time pressure I was having fun again and enjoying putting pen to paper. If I wanted to take a break or do something else for a bit then I could it without feeling lazy because I knew I could come back to it later and still hit my target by the end of the day.

I’ve found that writing 2,000 words in one sitting can sometimes be a slog. By the last few hundred words my wrist is killing me, my handwriting is illegible, and I’m scrawling as quickly as I can just so I can finish and take a break. So now instead, I split my writing up in to smaller chunks. I’ll write about 1,000 words per sitting, which roughly works out to about the length of each scene in my book. This is a comfortable measure for me – I’ve found I can easily get past 5,000 decent quality words per day without fatigue while taking this approach. If I sat down and tried to write that amount in one sitting I would inevitably burn out, write rubbish, and feel drained.

So it took me a while, but I seem to have found my stride when it comes to balancing productive writing. How do you choose to measure your writing – do you use a timer and write for a certain amount of time, or instead opt for a target word count? If so, how much do you aim for per day? Do you break it up or blast through it all in one sitting?

© 2015, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Photo by Ramiro Ramirez licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Favourite Words

Favourite Words

I was re-watching one of my favourite films the other day (Mary and Max) and the obese Jewish/Atheist main character with Asperger’s syndrome listed his favourite-sounding words. (Intrigued? You should definitely check that film out if you haven’t, it’s fantastically depressing).

Do you have a favourite-sounding word? My top-five are “ointment,” “bumblebee,” “Vladivostok,” “banana,” and “testicle.”

– Max Jerry Horovitz

His choices are actually really hard to disagree with. Which got me to thinking, what are my favourite words? If you try to answer that and you’ll probably find yourself stumped for a good while like I was. It’s a tough question just because of the sheer number of words to choose from.

After giving it some thought, I decided upon a short list of  ‘fulcrum,’ ‘vanquish,’ ‘abacus,’ ‘intrepid,’ and ‘pillock.’

Is there a pattern to liking certain words, or is it just a random preference? Who knows. Everyone always has their opinions it seems. Personally, I just think it’s fun to call someone a pillock.

So how about you, do you have any favourite words?

© 2015, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Photo by Terry Johnston licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.