There’s nothing like hearing that a friend has finished their manuscript or sold a story to some magazine to motivate me to write more. It’s like a reminder of the goal of this whole process: the completion of a well-crafted story.

I’ve been writing a good bit, lately, whether on short stories or my current long-form WIP, Scainlander. Most weeknights I’ll write after the family goes to bed, and most weekends, in the very early morning. That might sound like work, but it’s really not.  To me, it feels like I’m playing. I’ve got a sandbox filled with literally every toy imaginable, and I’m too busy–building castles from the bones of nogs and bulvaves, knocking them down with a new magic I drained from the last of the strolga–to notice that this is anything somebody else might call “work.”

And yet the play is not completely unstructured. I like setting goals. They help offset my planning nature and keep me on-track for getting to where I am the friend announcing that I’ve completed my manuscript or sold my story.

The goal going around my head lately is one of simple word production. A daily word count. I know, this is fairly standard for anyone trying to take themselves seriously as a writer, but hear me out.

A thousand words a day. Every day. For a year.

Think you could do it? Maybe you already do. I can write for seven to eight hours a day before the lights begin flickering and the janitor in my brain starts impatiently sighing as he waits in the corner to clean up the mess I’ve made. I rarely get that stretch of time to write, though, so I’ve set my standard a bit lower. A thousand words can take as little as an hour if the magic is right.

Still, there will be days when the magic won’t be just right, or when you just can’t devote the time to meet the word count. We’ve all had days like that. The kid gets sick and needs to see the doctor. The dog got loose, somehow, and is running through the neighborhood. You promised your niece you would chaperone her class field-trip. The zombie in your basement sets in with yet another massacred rendition of Sinatra’s “My Way.” Things happen.

So I’m building a little flexibility into my goal. If I aim at 7,000 word weeks, then a can make up for a day or two missing my word count. But, more than that, for the year I will aim at 350,000 words. That gives me as much as two weeks of absolutely no writing if every other day I only hit my word count spot on. Think of what 350K means. That’s two very long books (175K), or three properly sized epic fantasies (120K), or four urban fantasies (90K). On the other extreme, it could be 70 short stories (5K).

That’s my goal. Think you could do it? Or would you care to share what your daily word count goal is?

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