Tuesday, May 30

Writing Every Day

I finished the last chapter of Saving Sarah on Saturday and I cried. Not because the book was over, but because the book was done, and also because it was happy and touching. But the point here is that it is done! It appears that I’m able to produce a book about every two years, which in this day and age of publishing makes me an incredibly slow writer.

The phenomenon of producing six to ten books a year is one that simply baffles me. How does that work? How does one person write that many novels in one year and still have time to work a full-time job, take care of kids or grandkids, be in a marriage, take care of their own health, hell, breathe? I know how busy I am, working a job that would, in the outside world, be considered part-time; but sometimes I simply do not have time or energy to sit down and write. Often at the end of a long day of editing, I can’t even bear to look at my computer, let alone write. 

I confess that most of the writers I know of who are producing books at that clip are indie authors because frankly, publishing companies just don’t work at that pace. Trust me on this, I work for four of the Big Five and a couple of smaller houses--none of them are cranking out books at that rate for just one author. Now, it’s not unusual for me to edit a couple of books a year for bestselling authors, but do bear in mind, writing books is their full-time job—so two or even three books a year isn’t an unreasonable pace. But even best-selling authors sometimes only produce one book a year. . . . I’m guessing that is because they have lives that sometimes takes them away from their writing.

And yet, if you do the math—if I wanted to make a goal of writing 100 books over the next, say, 30 years and my books were an average length of 75K words, then I would need to write 1,000 words a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. Can I do that? Well, according to my little word-count notebook, I can indeed do that. On Saturday, when I finished Saving Sarah, I wrote 1,554 words, and I did it in about an hour and half. 

When I get up early and write the very first thing each morning, I can generally produce anywhere from 800 to 1500 words in a little over an hour. That’s how prolific writers do it—they sit down each day and they write. They find a time that fits into their life—late night or early morning or right after lunch—whenever they can sit still for an hour, they do it and they write. They don’t let the rest of their lives—the kids, the spouse, the day job, the dishes, the commitments, the sick friend, the weather, the meeting at church, the grocery shopping . . . well, you get the picture. Prolific writers simply don’t let anything else get in the way of writing for at least one hour a day. 

I can do that. I’ve done that. And you know what? I’m a happier, more contented person when I get up each day and write for even just an hour. So talk to me . . . what are your writing habits? Are they working for you?


  1. I try to write every day, and morning is far and away my best time to do it, but I try seriously hard not to allow it to become "just a job." While I want to be a responsible employee , it's important to be a boss who's cognizant of that employee's mental health, too. Great post, and congratulations on writing The End.

  2. we're heading into summer when bebe will be home, when bebe has swim practice daily, when bebe has meets on a weekly basis...so my schedule gets all kinds of crazy! But, like you, I'm happiest/more productive/less stressed/fill in another blank when I get the words on the page. So I'll either be up earlier than usual or burning a little midnight oil to keep things happy. Great post, Nan!

  3. When I joined the 'Book of the Month Club' as I call it, and released twelve books in the span of two years, they were all books that had been written several years before. My toughest year was when I thought I could tackle homeschooling, write 5 books, AND help out my mom once a month. Guess which 'ball' got dropped? Yup...still haven't written that 5th book. Plus, my publisher folded a year later, so the 4th book just came out a few months ago! When LIFE interferes, it does so in spades....;)