The Quotable King: Ten Pages a Day
Posted on October 27, 2015
by Aeryn Rudel
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, especially this one, then you know I’m a big fan of word count goals. I like watching the words add up in my spreadsheet, and I find having that kind of concrete, tangible goal keeps me motivated, and, most importantly, keeps me writing.
My goal is 2,000 words a day when I’m writing a first draft, and I use that goal for a number of reasons, one of them being it works for one of the most prolific and successful authors on the planet. Here’s what he has to say about it.
“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”
King is talking about writing on one project every day, and I tend to write something other than my current big project on the weekends. That said, the concept still applies. Case in point, I’ve been working on the WIP for just over two months, and I have 90,000 words as of today. Yeah, I know, King would have 120,000 words, but I still feel pretty damn good about writing that much over such a short span of time.
Look, I completely understand not everyone has the luxury of writing full time, but again, King’s method still works. So you can’t write 2,000 words a day; how about 1,000? Hell, maybe 500 is all you can do. It doesn’t really matter. The point is to find a number you can reliably write every day, and then—and this is the most crucial part—actually do it.
Just for shits and giggles, let’s look at the two months I’ve been working on the WIP, apply some different word count goals, and see where we end up. I’ve had roughly 45 work days to get my 90,000 words, so I’ve been pretty consistent with my 2,000-words-a-day goal. But let’s say you can only do 1,000 words a day; that’s still 45,000 words in two months, which is halfway or more to a hefty novel. And what if you can only manage 500 words? Well, shit, that’s still 22,500 words in sixty days, which means you’ve got a novel-length first draft in eight months or less. That ain’t bad.
To sum up, King’s method of 2,000 words a day obviously works for him, and, so far, it’s working for me too. But the primary lesson to take away from his quote, I think, is consistency and stick-to-itiveness. Find something you can do every day, even if it’s only 500 words. If you stick with it, if you are consistent, those words will add up a hell of a lot faster than you think.
I tried this one time. I made myself write 1000 words a day. I had myself a novel really fast, but it wasn’t a good one. It was frenetic and superficial. It’s great if you can work like this but I have found from experience that I can’t. I’m slow. I’m a slow thinker and I write ponderously.
I get it, and I certainly don’t advocate that writing is a one-system-fits-all kind of thing. Slow and steady gets there too, and, as you suggested, sometimes with better results.
For me. Better results for me. Everyone is different and I have a wonderful writing friend who does everything differently: she’s a pantser but I’m a plotter; she’s fast but I’m slow, etc. Her work is wonderful and she shouldn’t do anything differently.