Do You Even Lift – Wordcounts and Workouts

Admit it, there’s only one way to change your body, whether it’s losing that midriff podge or adding a little bulk to your coveted tricep flex. Likewise, there’s only one truly effective method of boosting strength and stamina and no, it doesn’t mean just running for the paper once a week instead of walking.

The key to mastering your body is hard work. Nothing more, nothing less.

Writing is the same, identical in fact. Everyone has writing muscles. It’s how frequently you use them that determines how healthy and strong they are. Exercise and discipline are as important for developing your writing as they are for developing your body.

When I was just a young boy (to be fair really not that long ago) I remember reading an interview with premier sci fi author Dan Abnett. In it he stated that one of the first things he did with his day was write 3,000 words for whatever project he was working on. Every day.

At the time the thought of belting out 3,000 words in a few hours made me twitch with unease, and to be honest it still does. But someone starting out their training regime doesn’t go for the biggest weights straight away, and likewise I know that despite the effort I’ve put in over the last two years I’m really only starting out on the lactic-pain-burning path of my authordom workout.

I aim for a thousand words a day, every day. That means my writing muscles aren’t great, but the discipline is there, and over time my endurance will build up. And trust me, as a writer you need endurance, Stamina is key. Ultimately you should be willing to take 1,000 poorly written words a day over 500 better ones. That’s just how the job works, because if you’re writing without intending to redraft, you’re writing to fail. Those 1,000 words can be trimmed down to 800 and enhanced, and at the end of the day they’ll be better than the puny 500.

So push your writing limits. Feel the writing burn. When you do feel it, you’ll know about it. I’ve twice written over 50,000 words in a month, 1667 words a day on average. To think that’s barely half of Mr Abnett’s daily quota makes me realise just how puny my writing muscles still are, but if I keep working I know they’ll grow.

Eventually I’ll be a lean, mean racing snake of a writer. And so will anyone who puts the hours in. Hopefully next week we’ll be exploring some of the individual writing exercise you can do to get those literary muscles toned.

But until then, get out there and wordkout!


(^ sorry)



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5 responses to “Do You Even Lift – Wordcounts and Workouts

  1. Good post. I set myself a small limit of 1,500 words per week (yes, per week). I always hit that target – perhaps 2,500 per week. Not many when I look at your figures but because I hit my target that is positive for me and the novel progresses.

    • Honestly, 1,500 to 2,500 a week is probably a better target than 1,000 a day – you’re more likely to hit it, and you won’t feel overburdened. It’s truly down to each individual writer as to how they handle their workload – finding a happy rhythm is the key I guess.

  2. I think I read the same Abnett interview – if I recall correctly he did 3,000 words before lunch and then spent the afternoon writing comic script. Dude’s a machine.

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