Friday, 10 January 2014

Reflecting on Work: Year 1

Last year was a one where my achievements exceeded my original expectations.  My initial aim was to fulfill a promise I made to my partner that I would not waste my time sitting at home doing nothing, but would write a novel.  In the end I wrote the first drafts of three novels and I've started on the fourth this week.  In addition I have maintained a steady stream with forty-nine posts over the nine months from when I first started, which is also good.

As I was saving off my blog posts I found that I had written an additional 18,518 words that when added to the posts I made to my other blogs bumped up my total to 29,984 words.  On top of that I wrote five reviews for magazines totalling 12,735 words.  Adding the 285,361 words I wrote for the novels I get a grand total of 318,080 words produced this year.  Not bad for the first year of writing.  Of course not bad depends on one's definitions of success, or productivity, which I think is a very slippery concept for writers who are effectively self-employed.

Author friends of mine say to me that the industry standard is 2000 words a day.  So, if we divide my total of 318,080 words by 365 one can easily see that I failed to reach a thousand words a day, with an average of only 871 words per day.  But here's the thing, how many writers write everyday, 365 days a year, apart from possibly Stephen King?

Putting my former NHS head back on for a moment I know that no one builds a service plan based on each member of staff working 52 weeks a year.  For a start there are the statutory Bank holidays that adds up to ten days, and the five day working week to consider.  On top of that are mandatory training days, annual and sick leave to account for.  Realistically the best one can get is an average of 42 weeks work out of an employee; though I recognize that this is not something a self-employed person has the luxury of enjoying, but I'm using it as a guideline to assess my productivity.

Therefore if I use 210 days as a baseline and divide my grand total by that I get an average of 1514 words per day, which feels about right to me.  By that I mean I expect to hit 1500 words on most of the days I write and can exceed that on a good day.  The point of all of the above pontification is that being a writer is rather a singular profession where self doubts can often loom large about one's productivity and one's value as a person.  This is my way of challenging the doubts I have about myself using the evidence I have gathered.

Thank you for reading, your support is truly welcome.


  1. I found your achievements last year splendid indeed.
    Being self-employed is no panacea at all in my view: you need hardened steel self-discipline every day to keep yourself focused and not to succumb to indulgence. Wish you luck and lots of success in 2014 with your endeavours

    1. Thank you for the supportive comment. Really appreciated.



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