Sixty seconds in a minute,
Didn’t take it; didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it.
I don’t think my fourth grade teacher knew how much that little saying of hers was going to play a part in the person I became. Always a bit of a go-getter, that’s probably why I found the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2008 so, well ... annoying! Truth is I didn’t want to go. I tried to tell myself it was because I was still recovering from a month-long illness but that wasn’t it.
I was frustrated by my lack of progress on my writing and the thought of facing my writing friends made me cringe with shame. For eight years, I’d been taking online writing courses or going to conferences, writing a little here, a little there, but always frustrated. Most of the girls I had started out with in ACFW were multi-published and here I was still struggling. And I had no one but myself to blame.
So when I landed in Minneapolis, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yes, I knew there would be wonderful classes on Point of View, Deeper Characterization—there was even one on how to survive the conference! I’d prayed that God would lead me to something, ANYTHING that would get me past this sense of failure and help me figure out how to write those immortal words—The End—more often.
And wouldn’t you know? God not only showed up, He showed up in every class I took, opening my ears up and allowing me to hear the three simple words that lead me from pre-pubbed to publication.
DAILY WORD COUNT
Now, I know what you’re saying—wow, Patty, how can you be such a doofus? But the honest truth is that while I was taking all these writing classes, I never heard anyone talk about their personal daily word count. If you don’t know what it is, daily word count is the number of words you focus on writing each day. For example, say you want to write 1000 words a day—that’s your daily word-count goal.
Every class I took during that conference, the author graciously shared their own daily word count and I have to say I was surprised. Most wrote anywhere between 1000 to 1600 words a day. By my third class, I was doing some figuring in my notebook—if one typewritten page equals 250 words, then 1000 words is four typewritten pages. Let’s look at this over the course of a year:
If you write 100 words a day = 36,500 words in a year(Almost a completed Heartsong)
If you write 250 words a day = 91,250 words in a year(a Love Inspired Historical, a Love Inspired or Love Inspired Suspense, 2 Heartsongs)
If you write 500 words a day = 182,500 words in a year(almost two 100K books; 2 Love Inspired Historical; 3 Love Inspired or Suspense; 4 Heartsongs)
If you write 1000 words a day = 365,000 words in a year(3 100K books; almost 5 Love Inspired Historical; almost 7 Love Inspired or Suspense; 8 Heartsongs)
I think you get the picture!
So once I was back home, I decided on a word count that I felt worked best for me—500 words a day. And for the most part, I stuck with it. I went to the library every afternoon after I got off work and wrote until I made my word count. Before I knew it, the story that I had only written 15 pages on before the conference suddenly had 100 pages, then 200 pages. I discovered that 500 words a day was too easy and I needed to stretch myself bit more, so I upped my word count to 1000 words a day.
Since that conference, I’ve finished two books and am almost done with a third. So today, I want to encourage you to really think about what kind of writing goals you want to set for this next year. What kind of daily word count would you like to meet every day? Share your goals today and you’ll be put into a drawing for my debut novel, Hearts in Flight.
HEARTS IN FLIGHT
Serving her country as one of the Women's Army Special Pilots is Maggie Daniels's dearest wish. But there are obstacles to overcome above and beyond the enemies in the Pacific, including her overprotective family, skeptical fellow pilots—and handsome, distant squadron leader Wesley Hicks. Whatever it takes, Maggie will prove herself to Wesley, until she succeeds in winning his admiration … and love.
Wesley can see that Maggie's a first-class pilot. She's also too fearless by half. The war has cost Wesley so much already. Can he let go of his guilt for a chance at happiness—and can he learn to trust in God … and Maggie … enough to believe in love for a lifetime?
A romantic at heart, Patty Smith Hall is an award winning, multi-published author. Her stories of encouragement and hope can be found in Guideposts, Journey and Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. Her Genesis award-winning manuscript, Hearts in Flight, will be released by Love Inspired Historical in July, 2011. Patty resides in her home state of Georgia along with Dan, her husband of 28 years.