June 2, 2017 @ 4:59 PM

Seven sensible steps to success as a writer
Step 5 (continued): Two hundred words a day

There are endless variations on the ways we writers go about composing our books.

Some prepare elaborate schemas of the novel before beginning. Others rely on intuition and the plot emerging from the writing. As an historical writer, my stories are pretty much pre-determined: the literary question is how best to tell them.

Some authors procrastinate for as long as possible before getting down to work. Others can't wait to back to the page. Some maintain the discipline by spending so many hours of each day at the desk. Others set a target of producing so many words every day.

The number of hours and the quantity of words depend, of course, on what best suits each individual. There’s no right or wrong of it. The only rule, I believe, is the discipline: for by setting such goals we try to ensure that each day another page gets added to the pile.

Indeed, as I’ve maintained throughout this series of posts, if professional authors were to rely only on the Muse for her inspirations, we’d probably achieve very little at all in the course of a writing life.

For myself, I set a target of two hundred words a day. Six days a week (generally with Sunday off). It’s often more than two hundred words, but never less. Some people write thousands. For me, the target is not difficult: it can be reached easily and without any undue stress…

Every morning, tapping away at the dining table (or, more often these days, the iPad in bed) the tale is carried a little further forward. And the wretched Muse can look after herself.

Next: My best writing tip

Photo: Calliope, Muse of epic poetry, wall painting from Pompeii. Orpheus was said to be her son.