The Daily Word Counts Of 39 Famous Authors


But how many words should you write every day?

Here are the daily word counts of 39 famous authors. (Please bear in mind that a double-spaced manuscript page contains approximately 300 words.)

Even if you’re not busy with a book, prompts are an excellent way to exercise the writing muscle.

If you want to receive a daily prompt from us, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the word DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive one. Do you have a daily word count?

Sources:

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

 by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

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This article has 29 comments

  1. Gabriel

    Probably one of the more valuable and insightful posts. (amongst the myriad of other excellent posts 🙂 ) Highlights the plight of the ‘weekend warrior’.

  2. Amanda Patterson

    Thank you for the feedback, Gabriel. Don’t stop writing.

  3. Jenuwin

    It is great to have an insight into something like this. I always wondered what was enough – what was the minimum. It does not really matter, as long as you keep on writing … every day.

  4. Michelle Wallace

    Such a variety!
    Nobody has a word count less than 500 words…

  5. Jenuwin

    I am currently writing a book about a personal experience and i make sure to write atleast 1000 words for the day before i can watch tv or do something else. i thought it was too low.

  6. Russell Blake

    I average 5K to 7K per day when on first draft. My production average has run 9+ novels a year for four years straight. I’m with Chricton on his philosophy, as well as Jack London. There’s a word for writers who wait for the muse to dance for them: amateurs.

  7. Savannah

    my word count averages from 12-16,000 a day. Some days I can get up to 20k, some days I get 6k. But that’s an occupational hazard of ghostwriting/freelancing.

  8. Jenuwin

    Ok…. no matter what reason you have listed how much you write (Russell and Savannah), I am going to write more. For sure!

  9. Ed

    Depends on the phase of writing I’m in . . .

    I’m currently working on a complete first draft of a play I’ve been working on for some time, and I guess averaging about 800+ words per day; though unfortunately I only really get one-and-a-half to two days writing a week.

    Regardless, I always take Sundays off, not even writing down ideas that seem good. Seems to work for me.

    Similarly, I no longer keep a notebook by the bed for writing down ideas at night (unfair on my wife!).

    When I’m writing notes and thoughts (and when I’m lucky, whole scenes or fragments of scenes), my word-rate varies hugely.

  10. Stacy Allen

    Thank you for this awesome post. Excellent.

  11. Graham Downs

    I try to do five hundred words a day, five days a week. Most weeks I can only manage four days.

    Well, I obviously write EVERY day, but I’m not counting e-mails and code here. I’m talking fiction and blog posts. 🙂

    Also, like Hemingway, (although I didn’t know he did it until I read this article, so it’s not like I’m copying him or anything), I tend to stop when I hit my target for the day, even if it’s in the middle of a scene.

    In fact, it’s BETTER if I stop in the middle of a scene, because then I spend the whole day at work the next day plotting what I’m going to write that afternoon, and the next session tends to wizz by! 🙂

  12. Amanda Patterson

    Thank you for all the great feedback!

  13. Nik Morton

    The emphasis is on ‘daily’ – and of course these writers didn’t write all day, necessarily. I advocate using a spread-sheet to keep account of the hours writing; when 8 hours are clocked up, that’s a day. So for my current WIP for example one 8hr day I clocked up 4,600 words. I’ll share this on FB, thanks!

  14. Graham Downs

    @Nik Obviously, we cannot know for sure, but I’m fairly certain that what is meant by “day” in this context is “one twenty-four-hour period”. Not a “working day” of eight hours.

    At least, that’s how I understood it.

    By your definition, you could write for only 10 minutes each 24 hour period, then tally up your total after 48 24-hour periods, and call that one writing “day”.

  15. Nik Morton

    Graham, that’s what I advocate in my book WRITE A WESTERN IN 30 DAYS. Naturally, there is more to writing a book than just writing, there’s the planning, research etc. But if someone says he wrote 300 words in a day, all he means is that he wrote 300 words in one hour (supply the time slot) of one day. Unless you’re Henry James, of course, who spent half a day debating about putting in a comma, and then the other half of the day debating about taking it out. If I say I spent 4 hours painting the kitchen, I mean it – I wouldn’t say I spent all day on it. 🙂

  16. Word Counter

    We can use a reliable handy word count tool to count the number of words in text: http://wordcounttools.com

  17. Kus Sularso

    very useful information, we know now , what is the meaning of consistent and focus..

  18. Emily

    whoa, maybe I should start to slow down a little. Reading through this list, I realised that I’m producing more than most of these famous writers. There are days when 10,000 words is a morning’s effort and others when that takes me all day but I have never allowed myself to write less than 5,000. I feel like I’m failing as a writer if I don’t meet that minimum.

  19. Enrique

    Thanks for the info, quite useful for any writer trying to be a pro.

  20. Don Schanzenbach

    500 words by noon – five days a week but I am only paid 1/2 time to write.

  21. Sam

    I try and write 1000 words a day, though the last week or so I haven’t written anything. My goal is to average 1000 words a day by the end of the year, which means I’m playing catch-up right now.

  22. Nur

    Nice articel! Thanks to the author!
    It would be great to see similar tips for Academic Writing. Are there any?

  23. Writers Write

    Thank you for the feedback. We do not know of any, Nur.

  24. Anonymous Guest

    My great inspiration is Russell Blake! I’ve tried to keep up with his 7,000 words per day, then fell to 5,000 and currently at a low of 3,000. It is really NOT easy to juggle writing with taking care of VHK (Very Hungry Kids)!

  25. Bob

    Why George RR Martin is not on this list?

  26. Vishal Ostwal

    Hey Amanda,

    I came here feeling that I’m the most unproductive writer, thinking that I’m not a pro yet, and it’s going to be hard for me to be one. This post made me realize that I’m rightfully playing my part.

    This data is a blessing as I can evaluate myself in accordance to the standards to which other writers abide by.

    Thanks.

  27. Amanda Patterson

    Vishal, write what you’re comfortable writing. I’m glad you found this useful.

  28. Ash

    Great post Amanda. Thanks for collecting all those numbers in an easy reference. I was worried that I am not writing enough for my new website. In the past 2 months, I have added about 80K words on out-of-domain articles that I personally researched. Nothing to brag about, but the numbers you have shared are encouraging. So, I am writing enough, and as I turn writing into a habit, I will likely also write better. Thanks again. Here’s my site for those interested http://www.listgist.com

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