Slow progress and ROW80 check-in

Writing seemed to be moving slowly this week, and I’m not sure why. I only revised two chapters, and only one of those involved major additions. The other chapter was just line editing to clean it up for critique. Since I’m one of those people whose self-worth is tied up in how productive I am (if I’m being honest), I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get more done. But last week is over and there’s always the upcoming week to push myself harder.

Revising is always more difficult for me than writing a first draft. I’m not sure I’ve cracked the secret yet, but hopefully I will this year.

The heart of the problem is this: When I envisioned myself writing full time, I imagined sitting at the keyboard eight hours per day, regularly hammering out thousands of words on a daily basis. A few months in, I’m still trying to find my stride. In her most recent book, “Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World,” Kristen Lamb notes that the pace for a professional writer is somewhere around 2K to 5K per day. I’m still building up my endurance to reach those levels, but I know I need to get there. More than that, I know I can get there.

original image by Myndi Shafer, accessed at WANA Commons
original image by Myndi Shafer, accessed at WANA Commons.

What about you? What do you consider to be a good daily goal for a writer?

ROW80 check-in

ROW80Logocopy1.) Writing:

  • Work on revising Made of Shadows, a paranormal romance novel. No progress on this story this week. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to revise this manuscript yet, so I might revise this goal and select a different project to work on. This one might need to sit on the shelf a little while longer.
  • Finish the second draft of the novella I finished in Round 1, Good, Old-Fashioned Magic. Revised chapters 4 and 5, sent to critique partners.

2.) Read 4 books on the craft/business of writing.

  • Finished “Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World” by Kristen Lamb. Highly recommend it.

3.) Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter daily. Every day except Friday.
  • Comment on 3-5 blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Target met.
  • Blog 3 times a week. 2 out 3. (I didn’t blog on Friday.)

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at

15 thoughts on “Slow progress and ROW80 check-in

  1. “self-worth is tied up in how productive I am” Yes, me too. Way more than I ever thought until this year. Wonder if this is related to a move toward being freelance somehow.

    That daily pace of 2-5K is an interesting number. I have had really good (once in a long while) days of 6K, but most hover around 1-2K when I can get myself to actually write. It somehow feels like a big difference to the 8hour work days we have become used to. The time is just different somehow.

    What is your next Craft/Business book selection? If you have thoughts of Self-Publishing I would totally recommend Write.Publish.Repeat.

    Congrats on your met goals.

    1. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I also average 1-2K per day most of the time. Making the transition from a job that’s based on how many hours you put in (8-hour days, 40-hour weeks) to a creative job that’s based on output (word counts, chapters/scene revised, etc.), not time spent, is tricky. It’s taking me longer than I thought it would to establish a routine.

      I’m planning to take a traditional or hybrid approach to writing. I’ll have to check out “Write. Publish Repeat.” Next on my list is Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”

      Thanks, Andrew!

  2. Personally, I find it hard to crack the 1k mark on a regular daily basis. So take heart. OTOH, maybe that’s why I’ve been writing so long, with so many publications, and so little visible success. *g* Perhaps I should be your negative inspiration!

    1. The thing I try to remember is that creativity and art are very, very individualized. So what works for one writer might not work at all for another. If you have a process that works for you, I don’t think I would change it. When I heard that number–2K to 5K, six days per week–my first thought was that I need to kick it into a higher gear. But maybe my current pace–anywhere from 700 words to 2K per day, five days per week–is just right for me. Only time will tell.

      Good luck, Ruth! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. Interesting question, Denise. Sometimes I feel as if a good daily goal is just sitting down and clearing out the ever-renewing backlog of “Stuff” that creeps into my to-do list overnight while I’m trying to sleep. Other times, if I’m not pulling in a 3K day, something’s wrong.

    I can imagine some of the way you must be feeling right now, since I’m in one of those slow slumps too (oddly enough, the tortoise was the theme animal of my blog post this check-in too, but not for the same reason). Here’s to knowing it will pass (it’ll kind of suck while we’re waiting for that moment, but it will), and that we’ll make waves with that happens.

    1. Thanks for the inspirational comment, Eden. Most of us go through slower periods or dry spells. I think I need to accept this as part of the creative process and not beat myself up over it. But like I said, it’s that whole productivity equals self-worth that trips me up.

      It also depends where I am in the process. Early on, a lot of my energy is spent on character bios, world-building, plotting/outlining, etc., so the word-counts aren’t very impressive. In the revision process, word-counts are no help at all.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. I think you hit on something there, Denise… Just the fact that we compare our self-worth through our productivity can be an issue. I don’t know how to stop this, but I’d like to. How about you?

      2. Following a suggestion in one of Julia Cameron’s books, I started making “ta-da” lists. Instead of listing things you need to do, you list what you actually did that day. I also try to keep my to-do lists manageable, so I can actually accomplish most of what I’m setting out to do on any given day. The ta-da list exercise definitely keeps me focused on what I did, not what I didn’t achieve, and that helps.

        I also think meditation can also be helpful, as can the practice of gratitude. They help ground us in the present and focus on what is, not what should be.

      3. A “ta-da” list… Cute idea. I think I’d be more likely to participate in meditation before that though, :-/

        Practicing gratitude however… a definite YES!

  4. A few of the folks on ROW80 have set time goals rather than number of words goals, for example, 30 minutes of writing. I’m in final revisions now, and my productivity seems very slow. So the 30 minutes has helped me, since I can’t exactly measure by # words. Maybe that will help. When I’m going for a grand output (drafting 750 words a day), the energy seems to build. But over 1,000? Not sure I could sustain that! Tortoises rule! Sometimes reading craft books is a help; sometimes reading craft books reminds me of what I “should” be doing. Hope your week is going well.

    1. “Tortoises rule!” I like that saying. I always remind myself, “Slow and steady wins the race.” I think the tale of tortoise and the hare is a great reminder for us writers. 🙂

      750 words is a good goal. I find that I can routinely reach that number, even crack 1K/day. But 5K/day? I know people who can do it, but I’m not one of them. Maybe I just need to build up my endurance, or maybe my writing process just works differently.

      Thanks, Beth. Have a great week!

  5. Hi, Denise! Wow, you’re reaching more of your goals than I have, yet. I’m doing really well on one of my three, but still have a lot to do on the other two!
    I think I know what you mean about feeling of less worth if you’re not actively producing words. How can I claim to be a writer when I’m not actually writing on my books? The time is fast approaching when I’ll have to either set my butt back in my writing chair and write on my books, or stop calling myself a writer.
    You keep going, and you’ll build the endurance to get a professional number of words in a day, day in and day out. My personal best was just over 15K, but that was the last day of NaNoWriMo and it burnt me out for … what day is it today? A long time! I’d usually get about 1500 in an hour, but I’d usually only get an hour in before I had to do other things. Slow, but steady, like your picture.

    1. Wow. I don’t think I’ve come close to writing 15K words in a day. I can see how that left you feeling drained.

      1,500 words/day is a nice pace. If you can do that 5 days/week, 52 weeks per year, that’s almost 400,000 words–not too shabby.

      I’m a big believer in slow but steady progress. It prevents us from burning out and keeps us focused on small, measurable, realistic goals. It’s when I get too worked up about the big picture that I start to get anxious. Once the anxiety kicks in, my productivity suffers immediately. I try to take it one writing session at a time. 🙂

  6. I prefer tracking story progress to word count. Word count is easier to define, but story-progress is more satisfying. “I’ve gotten these plot points down, now onto the next event.”

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