John Braine (author of the Room at the Top series) once said, "A writer is someone who counts words."
You should - because it's a sure fire way of getting around writer's block -and a good way of keeping yourself on track.
Having specific word counts to aspire to, will keep you writing more - and for longer. You'll have more to show for your efforts, more to submit, and consequently more work coming in. Your writing success is directly correlated to your word count.
Last night I was talking to a writer - well, someone who wanted to be a full time writer - and she told me she'd taken a year to get to her manuscript to where it was now. I asked, casually of course, how many words she'd written so far.
Four thousand, she said. Four thousand! G'ah - that's less than eleven words a day - what's she doing, I thought, chiseling them in stone?
By stunning contrast, Robyn held the whip to me yesterday (metaphorically speaking) and I produced 2500 words for a treatment we have to get to a producer by 5pm today. And I did that between 10am and 2pm - taking a break to make lunch - because I had to pick up the kids at 3. Talk about pressure!
But I think this is the point. If you don't pressure yourself, you ain't never gonna have enough words down to make you a contenda (to mis-quote Marlon Brando in 'On the Waterfront'!)
Writing something every day is important. Pushing your limit is important too. It doesn't matter if you start out writing just eleven words a day - as long as you consciously try and increase that amount as each day passes.
I try to write - actually try is not the word, have to write would be more truthful - at least 500 words a day or I feel bad, like I've failed in some unannounced contest. 2000 words and I feel good- complete somehow.
Which means that I could have written my friend's manuscript in two days - rather than take a year over it.
I know this is common amongst writers.
People call themselves writers because they have a writing project on the boil - whether they're actually working on it actively or not. I used to do this too. I felt like a writer because I had a novel that I would dip into every now and then. I spent years like this, believing myself a writer because I wrote sometimes.
Now I know different. Writing for a living means exactly what the phrase suggests: you write because you have to live, and you live to write. Writing becomes the center of your life - and you make a living from it!
The whole idea of that seemed like a fantasy before I took the plunge - before I realized I just had to let go of the silly 9 to5. Before I realized that holding on to a false sense of security was wasting my time - time that could be better spent being a writer.
That would be my advice to you. Don't wait, plan and dream to be a writer. Just do it.
Take the chance - we're only here once, our lives are on loan.
Do what makes you happy.
Reject compromise. Reject criticism. Reject everything and everyone who would want to see you live a lesser life.
Simply, write, and...