Any decent writer will admit this truth:
Writing is hard work.
And it’s not as glamorous as you see in the movies.
I know. It’s not what you’ve been led to believe.
You know the scene:
The author/hero, in the midst of a dry spell, fears he’ll never write anything important again. Stumbling through the rooms of his cluttered house in dirty, wrinkled clothes, he spirals out of control.
This once-respectable author with awards on the walls becomes an unshaven brute, binging on alcohol, rolling around the bedroom with a string of casual lovers.
He chain smokes, flips off the police, and kicks the dog. And at just the right moment, when you don’t think you can tolerate another minute of his pitiful behavior, his eyes spark. The music swells.
He races to his desk and flips up his laptop. Your eyes lock on the blue screen reflected in his dirty eyeglasses. In a fit of inspiration, he pounds out his award-winning novel over the course of a single weekend.
Sure, you’ll have days when your writing soars. But most of the time, it’ll resemble the excitement of a banker balancing a spreadsheet.Sure, you’ll have days when your writing soars. But most of the time, it’ll resemble the excitement of a banker balancing a spreadsheet. Click To Tweet
But you’re not quite there yet, are you?
You’d love to see your masterpiece in print, but you don’t know where to start.
You’re not sure how to turn the occasional burst of inspiration into a daily habit.
You’re in the right place.
You don’t have to give up the rest of your life to boost your word count.
You need a plan and a handful of proven strategies.
Read on to learn how to write 2K words per day without pain, frustration, or suffering.
Why Write 2000 Words Per Day?
2000 is a nice, round number. In 60 days, you’ll have written 120,000 words– enough for a nonfiction book or a novel. If you apply the same effort to your blog, you can have a year’s worth of weekly posts in 30 days.
Consider these famous novel word counts:
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird contains just under 100,000 words.
J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye comes in at just under 75,000 words.
William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying contains roughly 57,000 words.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a Mark Twain classic, comes in at just under 110,000 words.
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath contains approximately 170,000 words
If you’re ambitious, and you’ve set your sights on writing the next War and Peace, 2000 words a day will bring you 580,000 words in just under 10 months.
What more motivation could you need?
You can also complete 2000 words in a reasonable amount of time without becoming fatigued. In a matter of a few hours, you can be on your way to steady, reliable progress.
So how do you get to 2000 words per day, every day?
Start Small, and Build up Slowly Toward Your Goal
If you try to write 2000 words on the first day, you’re gonna’ struggle. In fact, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Feeling overwhelmed, you’ll likely quit before establishing a routine, before gaining momentum.
Start with a few hundred words, and increase your efforts in steady, manageable increments. Allow yourself a month or two to get up to speed. Once you reach 2000, there’s no reason why you can’t inch your way up to 2500, to 3000.
Establish a Time for Writing
In order to work up to a daily 2000-word habit, it helps to establish a routine.
In a matter of days or weeks, your mind will associate a time of day with your writing time.
So, pick a specific time for writing, and stick to it. If you have some flexibility, conduct some research to figure out your most productive times of the day. You may be an early riser, finding it easy to get into a rhythm before the rest of the family wakes.
You may be a night person, knowing that your best work happens between 9 PM and midnight. Find a time you can block out, when you won’t be disturbed or disrupted by family obligations.
If you’ve spent any time writing already, you know whether you’re a morning, afternoon, or evening person. Avoid trying to knock out a draft over a lunch break at work. Make your writing a priority. Carve out some quality time.
When do you feel energized, inspired, and most alert? Perhaps you can schedule exercise or meditation before your writing session to maximize results.
I write best in the morning and afternoon. After 5 PM, I’m great at brainstorming and creativity; however, drafting is best in the early part of the day.
Take some time to experiment.
Come up with a Plan
Writing flows when you know where you’re going.
Create an outline. Fire up a brainstorming session before writing.
Don’t waste precious time trying to figure out your next move. Make your writing automatic, without relying on inspiration.
When you have a particularly productive day, spend a few minutes after your session recording your thoughts. Over time, you’ll be able to re-create the optimum conditions for productivity.
Ernest Hemingway used to stop writing when he knew what would happen next, allowing the scene to percolate in his unconscious before returning to the page the next day. He was careful not to empty the well, keeping himself on track for the following day’s writing.
Honor the Draft
Many of us fall into the trap of editing while were writing. Nothing could be more destructive to your daily practice–not to mention your word count.
Drafting is work, something you must sit with and complete. Honor this stage in the writing process. When you’re trying to switch gears from writing mode to evaluation mode, you’re slowing down your progress.
Your job is to write 2000 words per day, not to evaluate and criticize your work.
Revising and editing are different phases, and they require different approaches, ones that are counterproductive when drafting.
Use Writing Software to Your Advantage
About a decade ago, I remember reading an article about dictation software. Something about mixing technology with art made me uncomfortable. Over time, I read more and more articles about writers using software.
Always the late adopter, I broke down and bought Dragon software. It sat on a shelf for another six months before breaking the seal and downloading the program.
A few hours into my first writing session, I was hooked. My word count tripled in those first few hours. There’s something about freeing the hands, being able to think and write without pausing to type.
I still have days when I work without software, but I must admit it can take your daily practice to a new level.
It reminds me of spinning stories as a child. Without the keyboard, the mind can wander freely. It seems much easier to connect the voice with imagination.
Embrace Your Writer Identity
Some of us, due to our past conditioning, feel guilty about the time we spend writing.
I know my depression-era grandparents would’ve experienced difficulty with the concept.
Sometimes, our friends and family only understand the conventional 9-to-5 job with time off and benefits. We’re only human, and we can adopt their value system, making it difficult to make positive choices for ourselves, choices that may defy conventional roles.
We must make hard choices as writers: to honor our craft, to develop our skills, to finish what we start.
We need to take time for ourselves, to grow our art.
Like any other quality you want to develop, motivation takes time and consistent practice. Cultivate it daily. And you’ll have days when it’s in short supply. Remind yourself this is perfectly normal.
Surround yourself with inspiration. Pick up a tear-off calendar of daily, inspirational quotes. Keep a few writing advice books or style guides near your writing space. Create a folder of writing prompts to power through the dry spells.
Reward yourself each time you hit your word count.
And remember to measure your progress. Track your daily word count in a spreadsheet. It’ll take a couple minutes per day, and the feedback will keep you motivated. There’s nothing like witnessing steady progress in print.
You Have to Commit
2000 words per day can become natural and automatic, but only if you commit.
At some point, you’re going to have to dispense with excuses. Every time you procrastinate, you reinforce standing still.
Some part of you probably believes it will be hard.
Sure, you’ll have challenging days, and you’ll imagine Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill. It’s really not that big of a deal.
And remember this: you’re in good company. Writers around the world hit this benchmark every day. Some of them double and triple this number.
Why not you?
What’s your go to method for writing 2K words per day? Share it in the comment section below.