How Many Hours a Day Should a Writer Write?

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Writing daily is—more often than not—something easier said than done. But, if you put your mind to it, you can consistently push your word count every day.

One of the boggling questions that plague newbie writers (a good number of published ones too) is how many hours a day should a writer write?

If I’m writing daily, how many hours should I dedicate to writing? And how many words on average should I write every day?

Some writers just love to cram it! It’s okay to have spontaneous, highly inspired, and high-energy writing sessions, but the problem with that is that you cannot predict the next time you’re going to get your inspiration.

One thing that bestselling authors have in common is their belief in and usage of a steady routine. They understand that consistency is key, and so should you.

You have to embrace the habit of writing daily.

With the help of writing software—like Scrivener and Write! App—you can set daily writing goals and keep track of your word average daily word counts.

Why Is Writing Daily Important?

1. Develops the Art

The more you write, the better you get. When you write frequently, not only does writing become easier, it also becomes fun.

If you write every day, the improvement is apparent; whether it’s music, blog posts, novels, poems, or DIY books, your work becomes refined reads.

Nowadays, we have grammar checking and book writing software, and if you’re writing daily, you’re probably using these tools too—frequently. Apart from helping you fine-tune your work there and then, these tools also help improve many areas of your writing over time.

2. It’s a Way to Preserve Random Ideas

random ideas
Writing daily helps you to record random thoughts.

As a writer, you get ideas spontaneously—it might be a business idea, a topic for a new blog post, a new character, a conflict in a story, or a whole different story from the one they’re writing.

Remembering all these ideas is difficult, but writing daily offers you a way to log them so that you can salvage bits and parts from these sketchy ideas later.

You can carry a notebook to jot down these ideas. Alternatively, you can use your phone or a tablet.

3. Increase Your Revenue

If you write for fun, it is perfectly fine to write as inconsistently as you wish. On the other hand, if you’re a career freelance writer or depend on book sales, the numbers mean a lot.

Writing every day often implies more novels or blog posts, and probably more revenue. And, you generally get better at writing, meaning with consistent daily writing, you could produce improved work and possibly get high-paying clients.

4. Find Your Voice

Consistent writing helps you have a unique and exciting writing style that can’t be mistaken with other people’s works or duplicated by another writer.

When you write daily, various elements of your “voice”, including vocabulary, tone, and syntax, start to become naturally unique and consistent, thereby giving you an unequaled style.

5. Helps You Build Confidence

self confidence
You can boost your confidence when you write daily.

Imagine the feeling you’d get knowing that you are starting a new month having used 50 of the last 60 days to write.

Think about the impact that knowledge would have on your confidence.

Writing daily boosts your self-assurance as a writer—even when you have no book to your name. If you are writing each and every day of each and every week, you feel like an author already! (just without the books).

6. It Helps Build Concentration

Most writers say they love writing because it offers an escape from the chaos in their lives—it offers a gateway to another dimension in which they are gods.

Writing every day can help calm the mind. You can take 30 minutes to write some random notes at the office, or you can unwind your day by making a summary of your day in your diary shortly after your shower at home. 

Bottom line? Write something!

How Do I Increase Daily Word Count?

I believe that for some writers, increasing your word isn’t super important—especially for creative writers who should be more worried about creativity and consistency.

But as I already said, writing is a game of numbers, so for bloggers and other writers who need to consistently publish their work to earn a living, increasing their word count is top of their wish list.

The question is, how do I increase daily word count?

I have some tips for you, some of which I also cover in my 21 Tips to Speed Up Your Writing Output article.

1. Outline Before You Start Writing

This is essential, especially when you’re writing a book.

Brainstorm about what you’re going to write next, and use it to make an outline for the entire project. There are software tools—like Plottr—that can help with outlining and book planning.

Plottr lets you quickly outline your book with visual story cards.

Outlining helps you place more focus on creativity rather than your story’s minute details. The implication is that once you start writing the draft, you do more writing than organizing.

2. Find A Location That Improves Your Productivity

You ought to find an energizing place that evokes inspiration. It might be your house, a bookstore, or most writers’ favorite—a coffee shop.

It should also be a place away that gets you away from the distractions.

3. Find and Follow a Steady Routine

Most published writers follow this strategy. They have a daily writing schedule and write at almost the same time every day.

The repetition leads to the programming of the mind and body—your body gets conditioned and is always ready to write around the scheduled time.

4. Set Daily and Weekly Goals

weekly planner
Prepare a daily and weekly planners and follow them.

This is a technique that I use. What I do is I set a weekly goal and deduce a daily average from the weekly total.

This way, if I don’t feel like writing a lot of stuff, I don’t. But, I use the next writing day to balance the average word count.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique

This is a simple but effective technique for boosting your writing productivity; it involves setting a timer and having 25-minute focused work sessions, which are followed by 5-minute breaks called pomodoros.

The breaks help you save energy for the next writing session, and you also stop writing mid-sentence which, on its own, is a useful technique for improving your productivity.

pormodoro technique
The Pomodoro Technique is useful if you get distracted while writing. (Image credit: “pormodoro technique” by Luca Mascaro on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

How Much Should a Writer Write Per Day?

The perception in some corners of the writer community is that the best writers consistently churn out high daily word counts.

I have frequent encounters with questions like, “What is your daily word count?

Usually, my unsophisticated reply is, “I really don’t know.”

But most often, people answer that question in a defeated tone like, “I can barely do 2k a day.”

2000 words? Every day? Are you kidding me? That’s not a statement one attaches “barely” to.

How dare they?

That’s better than Hemingway’s average daily word count and in the same bracket as Stephen King’s daily word count. At that rate, you would be inking a 100k fiction piece every 2-3 months.

I did a bit of research into the minimum daily word counts of established writers and it’s not really what I expected.

I’m going to present that information in the next section, but just to help you put things into perspective, I found out that most famous writers average about 3000 or less. Sometimes, way less—authors like the reputable Hemmingway average 500 words per day.

Many bloggers claim to consistently achieve word counts as high as 15,000 words a day. This is a huge claim but maybe there are, indeed, writers who can write and think that fast.

I would recommend that you experiment with proven writing methods—like the Snowflake method—to find out which one(s) can improve your writing process. In addition to that, you should write up to a point where you start noticing a dip in your productivity. You will notice a consistent threshold for your productivity and you can calculate an average daily minimum from your observation.

This video explains why word count is the key to writing productivity.

The Daily Word Counts of 5 Famous Writers

I believe I answered the previous section thoroughly, but what may work for one writer may not work for another; it’s like that with a lot of things in life.

But maybe if I gave you word counts of famous published writers, it might nudge your confidence a bit.

Well… who doesn’t want to write like Tom Wolfe or Mark Twain?

Although daily word counts expectedly vary greatly from one author to the next, the most encouraging thing is that these authors made or make their living by writing—these are not claims from an unknown unpublished blogger from Facebook.

Ernest Hemingway: 500 Words

Hemmingway said that he worked on a book or a story from the first light and could go on until noon.

Still, he claimed he only averaged 500 words per day.

Tom Wolfe: 135 Words

Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. was an author who wrote many popular books, and you would think that a writer as accomplished as Wolfe would claim huge daily word counts.

Nope. The writer— who wrote extensively on American culture—was never in a rush to finish his masterpieces. In fact, the book “A Man in Full” took the author 11 years to finish—it had a word count of 370,000 words.

Stephen King: 2,000 Words

Stephen King is one of the most famous and brilliant writers of all time. He doesn’t belong anywhere near the procrastinators club—the guy has tremendously long and wordy novels.

However, he says that he would usually set a manageable daily goal of 2,000 words.

In his book “A Memoir of the Craft”, the accomplished author recommends that it should take a writer three months to finish a first draft.

Charles Dickens – 2000 Words

charles dicken quotes
A famous quotes from the book ‘David Copperfield’ written by Charles Dicken.

The Oliver Twist author had a routine which he stuck to: he rose at 7:00; at 8:00 he ate breakfast; and by 9:00, he was in his study, working on his fiction pieces until 14:00. 

His daily word count was 2000 words. He stuck to his daily writing routine, although he did not always hit the 2000-word mark.

Mark Twain: 1,400-1,800 Words

The creator of Huck Finn realized his daily word counts hinged upon the location he did the writing.

He said, “In 1897, when we were living in Tedworth Square, London, and I was writing the book called “Following the Equator” my average was eighteen hundred words a day; here in Florence, (1904), my average seems to be fourteen hundred words per sitting of four or five hours.”

Keep Writing

Whatever you decide on, whether it’s writing daily or random and inspired bursts, just make sure you write unceasingly.

And remember…

Consistency is key.

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.