400 Words a Day Keeps the Procrastination Away

words.1“For more than three years I wrote more than 400 words every day. I mean, every calendar day. If, in those pre-portable days, I couldn’t get to a keyboard, I wrote hard the previous night and caught up the following day, and if it ever seemed that it was easy to do the average I upped the average.” – Terry Pratchett


I am, by nature, a binge-writer. What I mean by this is that I don’t write daily. I write huge chunks – swathes, if you will – about once a week. The rest of the time, I’m probably doing nothing of great importance (except my day job, of course).

I completed my first novel last year in November. As happy as I am with this achievement (and with the book’s wonderful reception), it’s also a bit of a disappointment for me personally. Why?

I’ve been writing since I was seven years old. That’s nineteen years of active writing, of plots and characters and words, none of which made it to completion. I had creativity a-plenty, but what I lacked was discipline. How much potential have I wasted because of that?

The Elder Throne, my first beautiful bouncing baby book, was something I worked on every day. Well. No. Let’s be honest. It was something I worked on every week, at least twice a week, if not every day. This was a far cry from the ‘I’ll write when I feel like it’ approach I’d had with my stories previously. And I did it without even realising it, because I loved the story.


I failed this April’s CampNaNoWriMo. Completely tanked it, in fact. It was too much, too quickly, in a period of time when I was far too busy to do it. Although I wrote every day, like a good little scribe, I just couldn’t get the amount of words needed in order to complete the challenge. So, what I lacked there was not discipline – it was time.

My total was 11,070 words. 

That’s 369 words per day. Not too far from Terry Pratchett’s 400 words a day, so from this day forth *strikes a superhero pose* I will be working from his example. With 400 words a day, a 60,000 words novel could be complete in first draft by early October. That’s not counting the days when I feel like writing more than 400 words a day. You can take the writer out of the binge but you can’t take the binge out of the writer. Or something like that.

Ahem. Anyway.

I hereby pledge to write 400 words a day, every day.

(Until the day I run out of ideas, and then I will write 400 words of drivel until I get my creativity back.)


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