5,000 Words A Day by Kim Knox

Okay is your heart beating hard?  Is there a quick sweat breaking out on your forehead? Yes?

Mine too.

There are some very fortunate writers who can rack up a daily total like that.  They set the bar high and there’s the gut-twisting feeling that’s what you should be writing.  Get the words down in vast quantities, that’s the way to do it.

I wish.

It’s fantastic for those who can. I can’t.

I struggle with my 1k a day.  Sometimes it’s 500.  On the days when my two boys are the Spawn of Satan, it’s none.

I try not to beat myself up about it. (Yes, the 5k a day guilt gets to me sometimes) but when I have days when writing is like sticking pins in my eyes I do something related to it instead.  Even if it’s being attacked by yet another aggressive plot bunny and taking down the details.  I also plot or I read my current wip — or another wip, there are lots — I refill the well with books, I get naughty and read fanfiction.  I’ll admit that’s my illicit joy.  I can’t write it, which is probably for the best though.

Every day I aim to do something.

So my advice is really try not to measure yourself against the writing quantities of others. Find the method and quantity that works for you and run with it.

Now I’m going to resist the lure of Wolverine and Rogue and get back to my wip.  Well. I’ll try…




Kim Knox




  1. Quality matters. Quantity, not so much. It’s more important to write down what needs to be written. Concision is a virtue; verbosity, not always.

    Personally I’m not much for doorstoppers like, say, the Void series by Peter Hamilton — plenty to read, yes, but much of it vapid.

    Many of the best books I know are comparatively short. The first examples that spring to mind are Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut or The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick. A little farther back in time, I can single out Ape and Essence, by Aldous Huxley, which to me is the quintessential short novel.

    What I’m trying to say is, the quantity in your work should be a function of its quality. You say as much as you need to say, not more. Maybe even trim a little, to leave the reader guessing. Leave something to the imagination. I don’t really enjoy books that are padded out to absurd lengths.

    Your narrative, in the end, will be as long as it has to be. And all that matters is that you finish your project. The world can wait — bring out your best possible story.

  2. I agree that measuring ourselves against others is not a productive thing to do.

    It’s kind of like comparing number of books read (in the book blogging world). In a really good week, I read four. And those are not children’s books, and any short ones (290 pages) stand next to those that are 400 +. Yet there are readers who finish 8-10 books per week. Do they sleep?

    Back when I wrote my first five books (that are now out there in the world), I didn’t measure how many pages or words I wrote. But I spent all morning writing. And I finished the first book in nine months, the second one in six months, etc. Of course, I still did some tweaking and polishing.

    I don’t have the stamina to write like that now. I get distracted by other things. Sometimes I think I’ve run out of things to say! LOL But if we keep plugging along, eventually we have something.

  3. The title scared me. The very idea of that being expected from a writer is preposterous. If your typical novel is 60,000 words, you’d be banging out two or three a month. Who the heck does that?

  4. I think the story tells you how long it ought to be. Sticking to writing and showing up is the only way to get it written, and you know if you are doing that, or not. Working on your writing – examining your plot, or researching character details is still showing up. That’s a better measure of progress than a word count. If you only add 50 words, because you’ve been working on improvement, your word count doesn’t say a thing about your craft or dedication.

    Besides, as a poet who ‘loses the thread’ easily after 3 pages of writing on one poem, I can’t imagine subjecting a reader to a 5000 word poem 😉

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