The Journal, Thursday, 4/20

Hey Folks,

Well, kind of a dismal showing today, but a showing none the less. (grin)

Listen, if any of these posts key your Share mode, please feel free to comment on your own “process” or techniques or day, etc. You never know what another reader might find of interest or even a gem.

Epiphanies are everywhere, and they depend on the reader’s perception, not the writer’s intention.


Interesting morning. After I wrote the topic (below) I was on my way to the Hovel to write.

Then I remembered there were things we need at the store. So I hooked a U-turn, went back to the house, added some stuff to the list. Then I went to the store.

Got back, put stuff away, and decided to finish mowing a few places on the yard. So I did that.

Then I was hungry, so I got breakfast.

Then, finally, I headed for the Hovel. I grinned all the way knowing now I’d get to play.


All things considered, I seem to be relaxing my way through this novel. It’s wonderful to feel that confident and comfortable, but already (less than 12,000 words in) I’ll be glad when this one’s finished so I can write the next one. Oh oh. (grin)

I think I’m tired of the world this one is set in. I already have the next one in the series started, too. But I think I’ll take a break from this world on the next one and write in a different genre, different world.

Topic: On Word Counts and Averages and Productivity

Scott Gordon lit my fuse on this topic in a comment on the 4/19/2017 edition of the Journal, so blame him. (grin)

Scott mentioned that he feels he needs a daily word count goal in order to attain his larger, longer-term goals.

Nothing wrong with that at all. As most of you know, I’ve done the same thing. In fact, I did it for most of the past three years.

Only recently did I discard the daily word count goal as a tool in my own arsenal. That action had two effects: the number of days I actually wrote decreased. But the average number of words on the days that I did write INcreased. Go figure.

But the daily word count goal can be useful.

If you want to write a particular number of words in a week or month or year, breaking that overall number into smaller segments (a daily goal) helps a great deal.

For me, the daily word count goal served its purpose. It provided a necessary catalyst to get me to where I am now as a writer. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s Heirarchy, I’ve attained self-actualization as a writer.

That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered the craft or anything like that. It means the act of writing, in and of itself, is of the utmost importance.

Even publishing what I write is second to that in importance. Everything else (promotions, reviews, sales, etc.) is third. A very distant third.

Just as an example, one of my own “big” goals used to be to hit 1,000,000 words of published fiction in a year.

But one day I realized (for me) that’s only a number. I routinely hit around 800,000 words of fiction per year anyway. Shrug. So for me, that goal lost its importance.

Still, I reiterate, using a daily word count goal is a great idea if it’s something you want or need to do to help you attain your writing goals.

But bear in mind, in this game the Average is what matters.

There are life rolls, emergencies, family time and other reasons for non-writing or little-writing days. And that’s fine. You’re human.

Most people think I’m prolific. Well, I’m not. Not when compared with the old pulp writers, many of whom far exceeded 1,000,000 words of published fiction per year. On manual, non-electric typewriters.

But I do pay attention to two particular averages.

One is the average number of words per calendar day. That’s to keep me humble.

The other is the average number of words per WRITING day. That’s to keep my spirits up. (grin)

So how’s that workin’ out for you, Harv? Well, let’s take a look.

Through yesterday, April 19 2017, I’ve written 230,626 words of publishable fiction.

Sounds like a lot, huh?

But if I didn’t write another word of fiction this year beginning today, my mean average for the year on December 31 would be only 631 words per day. (So about a half-hour of work per day.)

But let’s focus back down to reality.

Thus far (through April 19) there have been 109 days this year. Over that 109 calendar days, my average is only 2115 words per day. Given that my typical daily word count goal was 3,000 words per day, that isn’t good. (See? Humility is a good thing.)

However, among those 109 days I’ve had 37 nonwriting days. (Over a month of nonwriting days!)

So over the remaining 72 days (the actual writing days), my average is 3203 words per day.

(To put that in perspective, had I written 3203 words per day all 109 days thus far this year, my publishable fiction word count would be up to 349,127 words. Sigh.)

Now, having figured all of this out for this topic, what’s the take-away?

Well, that’s up to you.

For me personally, I’m determined to have more writing days and fewer nonwriting days.

See, for me the secret is no longer a daily word count goal. I know if I write I’ll average around 3,000 words per day.

Oh, and I also hate seeing “XXXX” in the “Fiction Words” section below. (grin)

So now I’m gonna go write.

Today, and Writing

Rolled out at 3 and spent the first three hours or so writing this stuff and doing little else.

Around 7, I was on my way to write and a bunch of other stuff happened.

At 10, finally to the Hovel and the novel. Around 10:50, a break.

11:10, back to the novel.

Took a break around noon, almost an hour. (At that point, as it turns out, my day was pretty much over.) I posted some pics to FB, etc. and back to the novel around 1.

I wrote a little, then decided to take a walk in the desert out back with my grandson and my camera.

A really short day on the novel today. But somehow that’s okay.

Back tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “The Magic Bakery: Chapter Five” at Great stuff.

Then “Story Nineteen and Some Updates on Challenge” at Really wish I had the $600 for this, or that there were two online workshops I still wanted to take. (grin)

Also some good comments on Dean’s original post about the short story challenge:

And finally (at Dean’s), “Quick Update to Short Story Challenge” at

Also via The Passive Voice, see “How a self-published author inspired by Stephen King knocked his idol from the top spot on Amazon” at

Fiction Words: 1344
Nonfiction Words: 1130 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2474

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245
Day 3…… 2136 words. Total words to date…… 5381
Day 4…… 2201 words. Total words to date…… 7582
Day 5…… 2579 words. Total words to date…… 10161
Day 6…… 1344 words. Total words to date…… 11505

Total fiction words for the month……… 23414
Total fiction words for the year………… 231970
Total nonfiction words for the month… 11100
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 68440

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 300410

The Daily Journal blog streak……………………………… 512 days
Calendar Year 2017 Novel Goal (15 novels)… 4 novels

2 thoughts on “The Journal, Thursday, 4/20”

  1. Here’s a micro challenge that I’m going to do to keep myself writing even though I know things are going to be hectic the next few weeks. The goal isn’t to write thousands of words like I should be doing. It’s to write a 300-word chapter for an ongoing zombie serial. It’s more about the streak than the word count, though I must write a minimum of 300 words, or about one page, for the writing to qualify. If your average speed is about 1,000 words per hour, it’s roughly 20 minutes. Everyone can put aside twenty minutes, right?

    So I went ahead and jumped right in and put down 487 words in what I think was a half an hour. Who knows? I have words on the digital page, and that’s all that I care about. I wasn’t going to write a short story this evening. But a page for a long-winded zombie horror novel? Sure, why not? I’m not even going to worry about where it’s going or what has to happen or who the characters are. I’ll let it tell me. Writing that feels much like reading–something Dean once said.

    Experimental zombie horror novel full speed ahead! Will I be able to keep my streak alive on the day that I have to drive 16+ hours to Florida? Now that’s beginning to sound like a challenge…

    • Hey Scott. You’ll find the longer your streak goes the less willing you will be to break it. Most of us have a lot more “free” time, especially in 15- or 20-minute bits, than we realize. The secret to using that time (and to keeping your streak alive) is to Keep Coming Back.

      Everything in life is about priorities. We all set our own priorities.

      Please don’t attempt to drive 16 hours in one day.

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