Let me be frank. I never thought this would be a post.
In the last week in Facebook groups, I have seen over two dozen posts in various wordings asking how little or how much people write in a day or how long chapters are supposed to be.
How many words should you write a day?
If you’re worried about that, you won’t make it as an author. Hobby writer sure, but worrying about how little or how much you write in a single day is like asking someone how many times they shit in a day. Mileage will vary.
There are no right or wrong limits to writing per day.
If you only get a paragraph done, great. If your muse has you turning out pages a day, great. It’s all about moving forward a little at a time.
You know what will speed up the number of words written in a single day? Practice.
- Writing when you’re in the mood
- Writing when you’re not in the mood
- Writing when you only have a few minutes
- Writing when you have hours
- Understanding story structures for your genre
- Plotting at least the section you’re working on
- Plotting the entire thing
The brain is a muscle; no different from your tricep or your abs. These moments are practice for the eight pound lump that houses every thought, every emotion, and every breathe, heart beat and more. Just like learning to talk, to sing, speak foreign languages, writing is an involved creative process.
The best advice I can give is get the draft down and then worry about how it’s supposed to be fit the norm. So much changes between thought and first draft and even between first draft and first read through.
If you stop every time you come across a speed bump, you ask questions that really could wait and interrupt your flow, you’re training your brain to panic at those moments.
Throw in some brackets [ ] with things like [Bad Guy 1] and keep writing. By the end of the draft you might have a name for him or you might not. But you know what’s super simple to do then? Find [Bad Guy 1] and replace it with a name. You can bracket anything. You don’t know how they move to the bed … brackets. You don’t know what restaurant they are going to … brackets. You don’t know what kind of car could do xyz … brackets.
How long should my chapters be?
There are no right or wrong lengths. Some chapters are thousands of words and some chapters might only be a half a page or less. There are traditional published writers who have chapters that are a single sentence or paragraph.
If your chapter feels long, ask a few beta readers if it feels long. It might have a lot of filler information or perhaps you need to implement scene breaks or break it into multiple chapters.
If you’re still confused on chapter length and structure, I recommend K.M. Weiland’s book, Structuring Your Novel.
Stop comparing your progress with someone else’s.
Stop procrastinating by worrying about how your journey compares to someone else’s. Each story and every writer have a different voice. Embrace it.