Stephen King once said he told his wife he writes every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving. He went on to say he also writes on those days. I may be wrong about the days, but I do know he said he writes every day unless something really bad happens.
In the martial arts we have a philosophy of training every day. It doesn’t have to be much; practice a kata, do a few kicks, beat up someone that looked at you funny, that sort of thing. Okay, so I’m joking about beating people up for looking at me funny, but the remainder is true. A little practice every day is a good thing.
Most things we do – whether they be physical or mental activities – get better with practice. As long as the practice is good practice, anyway. I used to tell my students in Kenpo to practice their basics like they really meant them because in a stress situation, when your brain turns to mush, you’re going to fall back on what you’ve practiced. If you’ve practiced never kicking above the shins or putting your weight into your punches, guess what’s going to happen.
You’re going to get clobbered. And probably laughed at. And you will likely have brought dishonor on your dojo.
Writing works the same way: Practice will get you better at it. Or, at the very least, more efficient at it. The quality of your writing will only improve as you strive to improve it. Read a lot, write a lot. That’s Stephen King’s philosophy toward being a good writer. Just keep writing. It’s a job as much as it’s an art. Like any art, you’ll get better at it the more you do it.
King knocks out about 2,000 words a day. If we follow the standard of 250 words to a page, that means he’s writing a 720 page novel every few months. Walter Gibson was known to write 6,000 to 10,000 words day. I’m nowhere near their league. My average is only 500-1000 words a day. Sometimes it drops lower, sometimes it goes higher, but it’s usually in that range.
So, why am I telling you this? In the realm of questions no one asked, “How many words does Eric Lahti write per day?” is probably toward the top of the list. Most people won’t find this information useful, but there’s someone out there right now wondering how many words a day you’re supposed to write to consider yourself a writer. The answer is as many as you feel like. Some people take a decade to write a book, others crank out a novel a month for decades (I’m looking at you Walter Gibson).
The goal isn’t to write the greatest prose on Earth, the goal is to write. Just like anything else out there, if you want to get good at writing, you need to write. If you want to get better at punching or kicking, go punch or kick things. And then write about that experience.
Maybe it’s just me, but if I don’t feel good if I haven’t written something every day.
How much do you write a day?