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A Thousand Words a Day?

by Donna L. Rich

“But, let’s just stop and ask for directions,” I plead.

“I don’t need directions.”

“Honey, come on, I feel like Moses’ wife, here. We’ve been wandering for an hour now, and I want to get out in that sun. There’s a gas station on the corner. Let’s stop, please.”

“I don’t need directions. I feel like we’re just about there.”

We arrive after sunset.

To be fair, I’m not a goal setter by nature, but I’m training myself to adhere to a word goal each day. If I don’t, I’m easily drawn aside to do other things. Think about it. God works with plans, patterns, and goals. “For in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” His strategy was redemption, and He showed us how to reach the goal.

Many of the writers I talk to have one major goal: to get published. My question is, “How will you get there?” Getting published is a monumental goal, and it doesn’t just happen. It’s going to take a few short term goals to get there. I’m not talking about obsessive/compulsive goals that drive your life, I’m talking about defined goals flexible enough to make room for life’s interruptions but strong enough that life won’t crush them and social media won’t rob them of their effectiveness.

First, a prologue. Be good to you. Read the Word, pray, eat healthy throughout the day, and allow space for exercise. Writing books can be harmful to your health. Take numerous breaks to save your eyes, back, legs, neck, arms . . . and mind. Accomplishing your word count will be easier.

Second, set your first goal. If you only choose one, why not this one: 1,000 words per day? Don’t let anything frustrate that goal. The next day, do the same. Before the week’s gone, you’ll have 5,000 words or 7,000 if you write on the weekend. In 10 to 15 weeks, you’ll have a book. If you write full time, try setting higher goals for yourself of 4,000 or 5,000 words per day. That way, you’ll have a good foundation on which to layer. The end result is satisfying, once you fix your mind to do it.

You may have other objectives to add to your daily routine, but keep it simple and attainable then begin to think about future goals. How many books can you comfortably write/edit in a year? Do you have a goal set for securing an agent? Do you have plans to talk to an editor? Is there a goal to get to the best writer’s conferences, where you can meet editors and agents and network with other writers?

You may say you don’t want to plan ahead and just want God to take you through the process. You’re worried that He’ll just change your objectives, anyway. That’s okay. Let Him change things, but, at least, have a word goal in place so He can make your words the story He wants it to be.

“May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” Psalm 20:4


Donna L. Rich writes contemporary and historical romance, is active in her local church, and is a member of ACFW and the Mayflower Society.
Her debut novel,
Tropical Island Vows, was released in August 2011 through Heartsong Presents. Within Her Grasp and Love for the Right Reasons are scheduled for release this year.

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4 Responses to A Thousand Words a Day?

  1. Mary F. Allen says:

    Great post, great advice, Donna. I have found these same things to be true. I particularly loved what you said about being good to you by being in the Word, being healthy. After all, we are stewards of all God has given us including our health. It’s our responsibility to increase our longevity of dedicated service. I liked, too the flexibility allowance. God said “write” and we tend to add our own interpretation and set ourselves up for disappointment. Setting a 1,000 word or other appropriate goal has us exercising those muscles, moving along the “write” path and staying prepared for more specific directions. (Often unexpected.) God may seem to move at a glacial pace, but when he does move (in his perfect time) everything can fall into place at once. Thanks for the word of encouragement today. I miss more frequent communication with you.

  2. Donna Rich says:

    Thanks, Mary. It’s people like you who make ACFW and truly encourage me to keep a good balance! Thanks for your comments!

  3. Donna,
    This is excellent advice. I’d never thought of 1,000 words a day, but it is very doable. I’ve found that when I set a word goal, I almost always reach it. And when I don’t set a goal and just “go with the flow”… well, it just doesn’t happen.
    I’m looking forward to your next book!

  4. Donna Rich says:

    Thanks, Susan. Here’s a quick admission. I don’t always make my goal, but I’m with you. Go with the flow doesn’t get much done around my house. :)