The Numbers Game and Failing to Success

Hi Folks,

Note: I originally wrote this back on May 9, 2015 for my Daily Journal. It’s valid information. I hope you will enjoy it and find it useful.

More than once I’ve mentioned Heinlein’s Rules. You can actually get your free copy here. If you follow those rules, you will be a professional writer, period.

Not only that, but others will consider you prolific, even if you’re not.

As an aside, still others will consider you a “hack writer,” again, even if you’re not. They won’t read your work. They’ll just leap to the assumption that if you’re producing a lot of short fiction and novels, all of it must be bad.

Don’t Worry About It.

Those folks will blather on among themselves for awhile, and then they’ll go back to attending conferences, talking about writing, thinking about writing, bragging about being a writer, and saying what terrible drudgery writing is but that they simply must write because they owe it to the world or some garbage like that.

And they’ll continue not producing anything more substantial than a grocery list.

Okay, back to the numbers game and failing to success.

My personal definition of “a prolific writer” is one who produces one million (1,000,000) or more publishable words of fiction per year.

For that reason, my personal goal is to write at least 3,000 publishable words of fiction per day. If I do that for a year, on Day 365 I will have written 1,095,000 publishable words of fiction. That would make me prolific.

Periodically I check in with myself to see how I’m doing. Sort of bad news. Through yesterday, May 9, 2015 (as I write this) 128 days have passed since January 1. During that 128 days, I’ve written 284,100 publishable words of fiction. My daily average thus far this year is 2219.5312 words per day.

If I keep that average through the rest of the year, on December 31 I will have written 810,128 publishable words of fiction. By my own definition, that is not prolific.

But it isn’t bad either. Will I take it? Of course.

I’ve failed up to now in meeting my daily goal, but averaging over 2200 words per day feels like success to me.

I’ve failed (thus far) in meeting my annual goal, but writing over 800,000 words of fiction in a year feels like success to me.

So yes, I will have failed, but I will have failed to success.

I wish you the same. Happy writing!


2 thoughts on “The Numbers Game and Failing to Success”

  1. Setting easily obtainable goals is good for morale, but doesn’t push you to try harder.

    Setting goals just out of reach makes you stretch, fight, and learn to sacrifice to try and get there. Even if you fail, you still have done more than you would have with an easy goal and should feel better about failing higher than you would have with an easy goal.

    My personal goal is 1200 words per day on my spreadsheet. I set that at the start of the year. I’m also looking at bumping that up as I also think I’m capable of the 1 mil per year mark. I got a very late start, but we’ll see where I land at the end of this year before I target next year.

    Either way, I feel that you and I will write more words than thousands of pro writers. Though there will always be ones out there we strive to be like.

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I’m proud for you that you started at such a young age. “Oh yes. We will watch your career with interest, young Skywalker.” (Sorry. Couldn’t resist. grin)

    I have the advantage, timewise, of being retired from any kind of regular job, but the disadvantage, timewise, of age. Then again, that’s the main reason I’m so hungry to write.

    My hope for you is that you’ll absolutely absorb knowledge from DWS (et al) even when it doesn’t seem right at the time. And I’m not saying take it with a grain of salt. I’m saying take it and trust it, and the need for it (or how it fits) will show up sooner rather than later.

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