So you want to write a novel but you don’t know where to start or how to get from word 1 to word 100k to finish your book. In the famous advice from Stephen King, (one of the most publish famous writers of all time) he suggests writing 6 pages per day. But that’s a little vague and confusing because the number of words per page varies greatly based on the font you use, font size, paragraph length, sentence length, and mostly, whether you double-space or single space. All of these have a great affect on how much content you can cram onto a page to reach your daily 6 page goal.
Instead of getting too down and dirty with the numbers I just want to use some simple math and logic. Forget about story for a second, and don’t worry about characters or writing style. Just focus purely on the numbers, and we’ll use the standard font, standard font size, and double spaced.
My suggestion is 1000 words per day to reach your 100k word novel in 100 days (just over 3 months).
1000 words per day = 4 pages daily * 100 days = 400 page manuscript. Factor in editing and you have a solid 300+ page book.
This doesn’t mean your book will be good, because talent is important. But if you stick with creating 1000 words per day no matter what, in just over 3 months you will complete your manuscript.
You can write 1000 words in an hour easily. Average typing speed is about 40 words per minute.
That equates to 1000 words in 25 minutes.
Now, I hear you thinking “I can’t write 1000 words in 25 minutes! That’s insane!” and you’re right. But this article isn’t about being creative, it’s about the numbers. The math.
It is absolutely possible to write 1000 words in 25 minutes very easily. 40 words per minute is only the average. I type close to 100 words per minute, and when I’m really in the zone I can type 1000 words in 10 minutes. Though the quality suffers somewhat. Not the content itself, but rather the grammar and punctuation, spelling, etc. So, yes, it is physically possible to write 1000 words in an hour.
That’s 4 pages per day. In 100 days you will have your 400 page manuscript ready for editing.
Oh…and a little tip. Don’t edit as you go. Just keep the flow. Stay in the zone. Resist the urge to edit.
I take Hemingway’s advice on this one. “Write drunk, edit sober.”. Though I rarely drink, it’s an interesting and effective strategy, at least for Hemingway it was.
Stephen King suggests that you read and write 3-4 hours per day. He says if you don’t have time, or can’t make time to read and write for 3-4 hours per day then you will likely never be a published author.
Writing 1000 words per day is physically easy. Creatively speaking, not so much. I understand you may get writers block, so I suggest you use some focus music to help you focus. Some people focus better in complete silence. Others focus better using different methods. Whatever your method, it’s important to get into the zone and keep up the flow by not editing while you write. Stay disciplined and just let the creativity flow through you.
I use a kind of focus music called binaural beats, this is a link to the particular one I use that works for me. This one may not work for you, but don’t worry, there are many many more out there that you can use. Just do a search on Google or Youtube for “focus music” and you’re good to go.
I only recently found focus music because I has assumed that music would interrupt my creative flow. But it had the opposite effect I expected. It actually got me into the zone much faster than I ever thought possible.
So to recap. The numbers are simple. 1000 words per day, double spaced, standard 12 point Times New Roman font. Write for at least 1 hour and try your best to complete the 1000 words in that time. Within 100 days you will produce a 400+ page novel which you can then start to edit and get it ready for submission to various publishers for publication.
The process is very simple. The math is simple. The numbers don’t lie. A novel is simply nothing more than a bunch of pages of words. Don’t look at is as some daunting task that you begrudgingly have to do each day. Don’t worry about editing or characters or plot. Stephen King suggests that plot is killing writer’s ability to write good books because when you focus on plot more than you do your characters and your actual writing, then your book suffers.
“Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice. The story which results from it is apt to feel artificial and labored.” – Stephen King
The opinions vary wildly across the industry and there’s all kinds of bad advice out there, but one thing that’s undeniable. The numbers don’t lie! Stephen King is one of the most published authors in modern times and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars; I trust him when he says to write better, read more and write 6 pages a day.
When he says plot might be a book killer, then ok, I listen. His book “On Writing” is famous because he knows what he’s talking about. Why listen to people who’ve never been published about how to get published? Why listen to people about how to write a novel if they’ve never written enough to fill one? If they’ve never had a #1 New York Times bestseller, then why the heck should you listen to them?
Math is important in writing. Know how to focus, get in the zone, and just start writing. Let the words flow out of your brain and onto the paper or screen and just keep writing. Have general idea of your story and the world you’re crafting and write. Don’t stop. Don’t edit. Just write. Let the characters do what they’re going to do. Don’t try to direct them or control them. Just let it play out. It may lead somewhere you never thought you could go. Your characters may create world for you that you never thought possible.
In 100 days you could have your novel completed. Just 1000 words per day is all it takes.
This article is more than 1000 words and I wrote it in about 40 minutes. Including editing and images and video links and Google searching and quoting.