We bang on about our 200 Words a Day Challenge on the Bestseller Experiment podcast constantly (click here to find out more), so it only seemed fair that I should give it a go. It also occurred to me that the sheer number of projects I had lined up for 2022 might benefit from me writing every day, so why the hell not.
I was also inspired by one of our listeners, Mark Hood, who (at the time of writing) has written every day for over 1100 days. Check out his daily word counter here.
How to keep track of these words? I downloaded a simple to use spreadsheet from MoonBunny Creative’s Kofi page. In fact, I’ve just got my 2023 spreadsheet from Moonbunny here. I saved it on my desktop and popped the words in at the end of every session.
Here are the numbers…
A total of 388,854 words in 2022.
That’s 32,405 per month. A little over a thousand words a day. I rarely wrote more than 3,000 words a day, and in December there were a few days where it was a scrabble to get to the 200 minimum (mostly due to travel/family commitments).
Those 2599 minutes per month translate into about 43 hours a month spent writing… Which, considering I’m supposed to be a full time writer, doesn’t feel like a lot. But I’m also taking meetings, travelling to conventions, co-running/presenting a podcast, interviewing authors/guests, editing books and scripts for clients, and doing housework (it’s often the only exercise I get during the day!).
I also only average 13 words per minute, so I’m not particularly fast.
But… I wrote every day and, as you can see, it all adds up. I usually start at 7:30am on my main project and work for two hours. I start writing by hand in a notebook (each project has a specific notebook), usually typing it up the next day and, in the process, redrafting it. Later in the day, I might work on a secondary project, or edit a client’s book etc.
May was my most productive month as I was in the thick of the drafting of Woodville #4 (exciting title to be revealed soon!). January was my least productive month, at least in terms of words, as I was in the thick of drafting TV scripts: lots of story, though not as many words as a novel.
What Was I Writing?
Here are the projects I worked on in 2022. Most of these have vague titles/descriptions because they’re either works in progress, or they simply haven’t been picked up or announced yet.
- YA TV Science Fiction series: a pilot episode, a series episode, and pitch document.
- Caesar on Watling Street.
- Interstellar Mega Blaster (a middle grade book that never worked… I had another stab at it earlier this year… and it still doesn’t work).
- The Ghost of Ivy Barn (final edits prior to publication earlier this year).
- Woodville novel #4 (main first draft and by far the biggest project I worked on this year).
- An historical romance screenplay that I’m working on with another writer.
- The Wish Demon comic book.
- New Fantasy Novella (hoping to self-publish this next year).
- Cosy Crime Mystery that I’m co-writing with my wife Claire.
- A Disco-themed RomCom screenplay that I’m working on with another writer and is in development with a production company.
What’s Not Included?
I only counted words that contributed towards creative projects, so I didn’t include my diary entries, emails, newsletters, blogs (like this one), or any of the notes or reports I’ve made while editing books/scripts for clients. I’m also a story consultant on a TV thing, which involved reading scripts and giving feedback, but while that was sort-of creative, it’s not my show, so I didn’t count them.
Was it Worth it?
I remember in those early episodes of the podcast where almost every author we spoke to said they wrote every day, and we got very excited thinking we were onto something… Until we got to Sarah Pinborough who said in her own brilliant way that she thought the whole “write every day” ethos was “bollocks” (listen to the full episode here, it’s one of my favourites). And she’s right in a way… If we’ve learned anything in over six years of the podcast it’s that every writer finds their own way of doing things. There are no rules, only principles.
That said, if you’re just starting out then one of the most important things you can do is develop a regular writing habit. And all you need to do is write 200 words a day. You can do that in 20-30 minutes tops. We ask people to try it for a week, and see if they get hooked (and they very often do, and also end up writing a lot more than 200 words a day). It’s less intense than NanoWriMo, and if you follow the #200WordsADay hashtag on Twitter you’ll find me and a community of writers sharing our word count every day. We’re all in it together. Sign up for free to the challenge here, and download Moonbunny’s tracker here.
Was it worth it? Definitely. I got a lot done this year, and I never lost any momentum and it never felt like a burden. Will I do it again? I think I probably will… I might give myself more time off over Christmas next year, but who knows? The thing is, I love writing. It’s a privilege to do it full time, and getting those words in every morning is my happy place. When I’m writing, nothing else worries me and I can’t wait to get back there again. Maybe I’m just weird? Or I’m a writer? Or a combination of the two?