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Creative Writing Tips #4:
Five Years

This will be one of my favorite creative writing tips yet, as it deals with my hidden passion of numbers. In high school, I happened to be one of those split-brain people who was proficient, if not brilliant, at both math and writing. Many writers tend to shy away from numbers at all costs, which can cause a problem when they're trying to motivate themselves. See, I'm a big fan of setting a word count goal for your writing, because saying I'll write "one chapter" is simply too vague for my brain to comprehend. I need to set a numerical goal and achieve it.

One of the problems beginning writers have with finishing an entire novel is that it seems like it's too much to handle. A short novel can be 50,000 words while a larger novel can be upwards of 100,000. If my creative writing tips on this site have taught you anything, it's that dividing a goal into smaller parts is one of the most effective ways to attack it. If I thought about writing every single word of a 100,000 word book throughout my writing process, I would start to panic at the sheer enormity of the task.

Imagine that you set a small goal for yourself of writing 500 words per day. Five hundreds words are about one page in a word processor document and might take an hour and a half or less. If you force yourself to do this no matter what, every single day of the week, you can really accomplish something amazing in five years. Let's look at the numbers:

500 words X 1,825 days = 912,500 words in total

Even if you're writing a 100,000 word novel, that's nine full-length novels over the course of half a decade! I'm currently putting 2,000 words a day toward my books (and another 500 words per day toward my blogs). While I intend on carrying this experiment out for just a year, let's imagine that I did this for five years running.

2,000 words X 1,825 days = 3,650,000 words in total

Since most of my books tend to be less than 100,000 words, I might end up with well over 36 books before I hit the age of 35. I would be proud to say that I had more books out in digital and print than I had years on this earth!

Let's imagine that you might have trouble with 500 words a day and that maybe only 100 works for you. Even if you are only able to put out 100 words, which could take as little as 10 minutes a day, check out what you can do in five years.

100 words X 1,825 days = 182,500 words in total

That means that even if you only put in around 10 minutes a day of writing, if you can do it consistently, you can finish that full-length novel. You can read all the creative writing tips in the world, but if you can put in a little bit of time each day, for a long enough period of time, you may be surprised at how high your output can become.

Done with Five Years? Go back to Creative Writing Tips.

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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