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Daily Writing Quotas

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 24, 2011

If you want to maintain productivity as a writer, you have to consistently focus and produce new pages. How do you accomplish this when there are so many distractions waiting to happen?

Set your goals. How many pages can you write per day? Per week? In a month? What’s your final page count to be, and how long are you giving yourself for reaching it?

My daily page quota is 5 pages a day at a minimum. Usually, I go to work first thing in the morning and try to get these pages done before business hours and the distractions of phone calls, appointments, etc. Perhaps you work at a day job or have child care obligations. What’s the best time for you to be productive? How many pages can you realistically manage to get done during those hours? When you finish the daily allotment, you can write more if you’re still going strong, or you can use the time for research and promotion.

My weekly page quota is 25 pages. This means I only have to work 5 days a week at a production rate of 5 pages per day. However, this doesn’t always happen. Some days, I have things to do and get nothing written. Other days, maybe I’ll write two pages. As long as I make up for lost time by the end of the week, I’ll meet this quota, too.

Then there’s the monthly quota. I set for myself 100 pages from beginning to end of the month. For a 100,000 word book or 400 pages by the old standards, that means it’ll take me four months to write a book of this length.

That doesn’t count in vacations, revision letters from editors, proofreading edited books, public appearances, or other time you must take off from your forward progress. So besides your monthly quota, add in extra weeks to write the book to count for unexpected time loss. Figure in your vacations, weekends away, appointments, and other events that will interfere when you set your final goal, which is finishing the book. Goal A is the first draft, when the actual writing is completed. Goal B is for the finished product when your work is ready for submission.

Here’s my example:

Daily: 5 pages
Weekly: 25 pages
Monthly: 100 pages
Word Count: 100, 000
First Draft Completion: 4 months: July, Aug, Sept, Oct. Finish by Thanksgiving (allowing a few extra weeks for vacations and other disruptions).
Revisions: December
Submission: January

This is a pretty tight schedule, although compared to some other prolific authors, it’s lengthy. If you have a one book a year contract, then you can take your time. If you’re asked for a deadline by your agent or editor, make one production schedule for yourself, and then tack on extra time for the official deadline so you don’t free scrunched. The most important factor is to set realistic goals that you’ll be able to meet on a consistent basis.

So what works for you?

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6 Responses to “Daily Writing Quotas”

  1. I’m a binge writer–I tend to attack projects, work on them for months, even years at a time, and then collapse into an insensible lump when my labors are done. Not emotionally or physically healthy, I know (I have the scars, visible and invisible, to prove it), but it seems to be the only method that works for me. Completely immersing myself in a novel (or any work) until I simply cannot look at it for another second…and then send it off to be published.

  2. Whatever works, Cliff. The slow but steady candle works for some, while the bright flame will flare for others. I’m the slower, steady type. You’re the flame that burns (pun intended) bright and intense.

    • Liz lamac said

      Nancy, that is interesting I too like to write early in the morning. But, you can’t let everyone know that. They will begin to think – she gets up early to write, I will call her now. Lol. I write 1,ooo words a day. Seven days a week. Does that come out almost like your 5 a day does?

  3. Liz, you probably write more than me. 1000 words is about 4 pages double-spaced, right? So you do 7×4 or about 28 pages per week at least. I need time off so I like to works weekdays when possible.

  4. Jeanne Meeks - said

    Thanks for the useful information. I am woefully lacking in any sort of scheduling and get caught up in my blog, revisions, looking for a publisher. As long as I’m doing something in the writing world, I feel ok, but finishing the book is postponed. I’ll give your method a try.

  5. Jeanne, I suggest you put your writing first, accomplish your daily quota, and then reward yourself by going online. Keep off the Internet until then.

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