The Problem With Daily Word Counts

This list of the daily word counts of famous authors has been making the rounds. The top producers, by far, are the late thriller writer Michael "Jurassic Park" Crichton and the late British historical novelist R. F. Delderfield, who both apparently wrote 10,000 words a day. Then we've got one 6,000-word-a-day chap (thriller writer John Creasy), a few 4,000 and 3,000 words-a-day producers (Anne Rice, Iain Banks, Frederick Forsyth), and a host of 1,000 to 2,000 word producers. On the low end, we've got Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene (one of my idols), and Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who all clock in at a meagre-seeming 500 words a day. There are huge problems with this list. First, it's a hodgepodge. It contains famous writers and obscure ones; literary novelists and formulaic pop-fiction ones (plus, as noted, at least one historian); those writing by hand and those using computers; privileged Victorian and mid-century-American white male writers and less-privileged contemporary female writers … [Read more...]

What is the biggest barrier standing between you and greater productivity?

In my case, it used to be perfectionism that shut down the creative process before it started. I spent nearly five years writing and rewriting the same novel chapter because I was terrified of having others see it and judge it. Then - as I got less perfectionist - my biggest barrier became time management. I had to learn to aggressively get rid of unimportant and even semi-important activities to clear lots of time for writing and my indie publishing business. Nowadays, I'm not very perfectionist, and I also have more time. But I still have to watch myself because it is easy to say "yes" to requests I really should say "no" to, and even short digressions for nonessential tasks turn out to be surprisingly big drains on my time, attention, and energy. So I really work to keep those to a minimum. I'm also working on becoming a more efficient writer -- a.k.a. "boosting my writing tempo," as I discuss in Chapter 5 ("Optimizing Your Writing Process") of The 7 Secrets of the Prolific. Specifically, that … [Read more...]