Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | September 27, 2011

Five Hundred Words

My goal is to write five hundred words a day. That’s roughly a page and a half. This post will probably end up around five hundred words. I have a friend whose goal is two thousand words a day. Since he doesn’t believe in weekends or succumbing to illness, that’s fourteen thousand words a week. If I write five hundred words a day my weekly output is about three and a half thousand words.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

Life happens. Children get sick, husband gets sick, I get sick. The dog or the cat gets sick. I need to work. The roof leaks or the car stops working. People break things, hurricanes blow through, the electricity goes off and I find myself crouching over a computer by candle light, hoping the battery lasts another hour. Time erodes and I find I have missed a couple of days.

So I take a deep breath and start again. Five hundred words a day, every day.

Sometimes when I read interviews with successful authors they are asked to give advice to aspiring writers. The answer could contain information on plot, characters, social networking, or who knows what. Sometimes it does. But most often the advice is simply to write everyday.

That’s the best writing advice ever.

I used to wait for the right time. Time when I was most awake, had nothing else looming over me, time to think. Guess what? That doesn’t happen. And then when I finally did sit down the ideas thundered around in my head, my fingers moved and the linguistic equivalent of a drizzle showed up on paper.

When I write everyday I can put those ideas onto the page and feel, somehow, that they resemble, if only a little, the big, robust images in my head. I use the twenty-four hours in between to plot and think. Then when I sit down again the words come out more smoothly. It becomes easier to write and sometimes the words come so freely that my word count sneaks up to a thousand before my time is up and the world rushes back, demanding my attention.

I am happier when I write everyday. The images and characters no longer rush around in my head, demanding to get out.  Also I have a feeling of accomplishment. I have done what I set out to do for the day, the words arrived. I can relax rather than desperately seek to carve out time.

Then the world stampedes to my door, my feet hit the floor at dawn and I fall into bed at midnight and days go by and I wonder when did I ever have time to write, who was that person? The need to write builds up, I get grouchy, my characters begin to snipe and argue in my head.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a writer or schizophrenic.

Time for a deep breath again. Five hundred words a day, every day. And this posting? Five hundred words.


  1. Hey, I just read that Graham Greene wrote 500 words a day, so you are in good company! And I wish for your 500 words a day. Any day that is more than 0 is a good day for me lately!


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