Doing the Math For Your Writing Career

If you want to lead a full-time writing career in your full-time life, consider the happy twotwentytwosmallmathematics of writing books.

Writers talk about books taking six months or a year.  Or indeed years.  And of course any profession will fill the entire time you give it, including every hour of the day, if you allow it to schedule you instead of the other way around.

If you step back and look at the time it takes you to write, rather than the time it takes a book to get itself written, you find that you can probably write about a thousand to fifteen hundred words an hour or two, so long as you know what you’re going to write.

You’re going to be outlining, revising, polishing and planning your marketing strategies during the week, but unlike drafting, these can easily be done in smaller time frames.

Posit that those fifteen hundred words are based on a good outline, then they will become part of your book. If you write twice a week for an hour or two, then, you have three thousand words.  (Mind you, if you are happy to take five hours to compose a perfect paragraph, then carry on and don’t mind me.)  If you have three thousand words a week, and you use the best part of those words, then you have two short novels or one long novel a year.

There’s more to a writing career than writing your story, of course, but that is a necessary basic:  having fantastic books to build your career upon.

Have another brilliant writing day. Want more time management and writing tips? See our archives and

One thought on “Doing the Math For Your Writing Career

  1. This is a great way to think about writing, Melanie!

    After years of having this vague idea that one day I’d sit down and write a novel (and never doing it), I found that breaking it down into chunks made it seem so much more achievable.

    NaNoWriMo, the 3 Day Novel Challenge, etc.; they made me realise that I thrive when faced with a discrete challenge! Committing to writing 1667 words a day, or 3000 a week, helps me turn off my nagging inner editor.

    I’ve also found that these types of challenge are a good way to reassure partners/friends that you’ll return from the novel-writing abyss in a pre-arranged amount of time, be it 30 days, 3 days, or however long. Having discernible goals to present to family is a good way of carving out time to write the damn thing.

    Add in a spreadsheet that autogenerates a little graph to show your wordcount progress and I’m as happy as a clam. (

    Of course, I say this as I head into editing the first draft of my latest novel. In a few hours, I will be wondering why I wrote so many words.

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