Archives for June 2010

How Many Words a Day Do You Write?

"So, how many words a day do you write?" a friend asked me the other day. And on the surface it seemed quite a simple question. I thought for a moment. "I guess I must write well over five thousand
words a day if you include daily journal, non fiction book, proposal, 
emails, blogs, web articles and letters." (Yes, I actually do put pen to
paper to write to my Mum!)

"I mean for a novel," she said. Ah. Now that is different. "Well, I think I'm comfortable writing between five hundred and a thousand a day, " I said. "On my own stuff." She was shocked. I asked why.

"I thought it would be about ten or twenty thousand or something!"she said.

I think it's a pretty common preconception that novelists churn out thousands of words a day. Some do. Barbara Cartland, that doyenne of the romance genre, used to write beween six and seven thousand  words a day, but she used to dictate her novels to an assistant, which kind of doesn't count.

Steven King says in his book On Writing that he usually manages two thousand words a day and that he even writes on weekends, holidays, Christmas… a true labour of love.

But actually writing a story? When I'm working on my own material, I know from experience that I average about 600 words a day (per novel) and that I only work Monday to Friday. It may not sound a lot, but it means that in eight months I have written 80,000 words, which is an average novel length. For clients, especially those who have already got a plot outline, this
output doubles – even quadruples sometimes. But as I work on several
projects at once, mixing all kinds of writing work, I don't write novels
full time.

Once I'd explained this to my friend, she was relieved. "That seems kind of doable," she said."Maybe I can write a novel after all!"

So to encourage people faced with the daunting task of writing a novel, I'd say this. Take it steady, don't go crazy, stick to your 500 words a day – don't make it a chore – and you'll get there.

Online Dating Assistants – the New Ghost Writing

Although ghostwriting used to be associated with writing novels and non fiction books for people, the remit has slowly been extended to blogs, articles, tweets, websites, speeches and so on.

The latest addition to the ghost writer's portfolio is online dating. An article in the Washington Post describes how the busy bachelor whose days are so full he has to use online dating to find a companion, is now SO busy that he can't even interact with any ladies who respond to his profile. In fact, he can't even write his profile – no time, no time!

Answer? Outsource it of course! Hire a ghostwriter – AKA online dating assistant. This person will write your profile, engage in witty email interchange and messages with Miss Right until the date is fixed up. That's where their job ends as the busy bachelor should actually turn up for his own date, but who knows, maybe he'll outsource that too!