Two years ago my then-girlfriend Shelly asked me how much I wrote each year. I shrugged. Most days I didn’t know how much I’d just written. I never kept track. I just wrote and wrote and wrote until stories got finished.

I was curious to know, and also to find a way to minimize the days I didn’t write and get a better understanding on what I was actually doing. 

Since she is the smarter one (don’t let her know I said it, even though she already knows) she created a simple spreadsheet in Excel for me. I punched in my daily number and it worked it through the week, month and year to give me running totals. 

I decided my goal would be 1,500 a day or 10,000 words a week and 520,000 words for the year. I had no idea if it was possible or I’d crush the number, since I never really tracked any of this writing thing. 

October 2013 began this experiment. 

In my first year I wrote 477,000 words. My daily average was 1,308. I had 123 days without writing, which is crazy but real life does get in the way of sitting and writing every day. Some days I was burnt out or busy with errands and kids. Some days I wanted to watch a movie.

The second year just passed. Yesterday was my last day of year 2. How’d I do?

423,000 words. My daily average was 1,158. I only had 92 days I didn’t write, despite getting married and a honeymoon, several conventions and general life in my way. I wrote more days but less words each day as non-writing work (Authors Supporting Our Troops, Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast, Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast, social media promoting, Winter of Zombie and Summer of Zombie blog tours getting bigger, etc. etc.) got in the way of my actual words as well. 

What did I learn? I write a lot of words compared to some people and not enough stacked against others. 

Today marks the first day of my new writing year. I think I’m going to calm down a bit and settle in and relax. I have my rough schedule of work in the next 12 months laid out, which means nothing once a new contract or something interesting crosses my desk. Until then… I want to break 400,000 words in the next year. That’s only 1,096 words a day average. Very easy to beat. 

Will I do it? I don’t see why not. With my new way to write each day (#MandoMethod, where I write as many words in a 15 minute stretch without a break) I am averaging 600 words a sprint, so writing 30 minutes a day (in theory) will hit my goals easily. 

But, hey… only time will tell. 

Armand