Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Many Words Should a Freelancer Write Per Day?

I think this article was written more from a journalist's perspective, but it's still a good read.

How Many Words Does a Freelance Writer Need to Write a Day?

By Linda Formichelli

In order to keep up with every other freelancer out there, we start thinking about how many words we need to write a day — how productive we have to be. The problem is that there is no good answer. There are freelance writers who turn out 4,000 words in a day. There are freelance writers who turn out 400. And, while this may seem counter-intuitive, writers at both levels may be earning the same amount of money.

The question shouldn’t be how many words do we need to write to consider ourselves productive writers, but how do we find the right words? Take Ernest Hemingway (who had a good journalistic career, beyond his better known novels and short stories). He wrote between 500 and 1,000 words a day. But, whether or not you’re a Hemingway fan, it’s hard to argue that they weren’t the right 500 words.

Where Are Your Limits?

My record for writing in a given day is just under 10,000 words in a 14-hour period. They certainly weren’t great words, but they were down on paper by the end of the day. I couldn’t write at all for the next four days. I may have been sitting at a desk the whole time, but I was physically exhausted by the experience. I certainly don’t recommend that any freelance writer shoot for 10,000 words a day on a regular basis.

But it is important to know where your limits are. When I first started writing, a few hundred words exhausted me almost as much as 10,000 words does now. It took me days to write an article, even a short one. But practice does improve writing muscles. I set myself a quota — a daily word count — to meet that was right on the edge of what I was comfortable with. Slowly, but surely, that word count has moved upwards.

If you measure your productivity as a writer on the basis of the number of words you write each day, it’s important to keep building on both the number of words you can comfortably write as well as the quality of those words. Practice is the best way to do both. Ideally, you’ll be practicing on assignments you’ve already landing, but even writing magazine assignments that you’ve created for yourself when you don’t have a full plate — you can offer them to magazines on spec, turn them into blog posts for your own site or even think about putting them into a longer format — can help you continue to move forward.

Source: The Renegade Writer

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