Word Count Goals

I was curious about what a good word count benchmark would be. I worked for several hours yesterday and only managed to get 1,390 words. At this rate I feel like my characters kids might have kids before I finish telling this story. What are other writers using as their writing goals?

Every writer is different. At 1390 words in several hours, I assume you’re in the rough-draft phase; from there, thing slow down as you come to know your characters and their problems. You know you’re done when, as someone once said, you spend the morning putting in a comma and the afternoon taking it out.

I’m suspicious of word-count goals, which feels like mass-production. Hours in the chair is probably a better measure, as some days the words just flow and others they ooze like treacle. Trying to meet an arbitrary number of words in a set amount of time is a path toward mediocrity.

A thousand words a day is actually a pretty good goal. It may not seem like much, but it adds up, and it’s small enough to be doable.

Hours in the chair is a good measure, too. I tend to use words if I’m writing the rough draft, hours if I’m editing or doing “non-writing” work like research or fact-checking.

I disagree that word count goals are “a path toward mediocrity.” No one ever said you had to publish that first draft, but a blank page is just a blank page. Word count goals are also pretty useful if you want to meet deadlines, which are in turn useful if you enjoy getting paid for your work. Insisting that every word be “worthwhile” is a path to never finishing anything.


Thank you both, two interesting and opposite opinions! I am glad that the thousand plus words I managed was a decent amount of progress. I am hoping to finish the book in under two months, so as long as I keep this pace and make my book 80,000 words I am right on track. :smiley: