(Transcript) – How much should you really be writing every day?

FREE QUIZ: Which "Publishing Path" Is Right For Your Book?

There are four different publishing paths for the modern author.
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Morgan MacDonald : Hello. Welcome to the replay. It’s very dark, outside, here in Houston, because it has been RAINING and thunderstorming for a long time. So now I’m having to use my indoor light instead of my nice natural light. But that’s okay. We’ll roll with it, right?

 

Welcome everyone as you’re joining. Pop in the chat, let me know your name, where you’re coming from, [and] what you write. Do you write blogs, articles, books? Tell me what you write. NO matter what you write, whether it’s SHORT stuff, [like] blogs, or LONG stuff [like] books, I’m going to give you something today that’s TOTALLY going to change the way you write. I promise. I’m not HYPING it up. I do not hype. I don’t even know how to DO hype. I’m so low-key that I physically cannot do hype [laughter]. But this WILL, I promise, change your life. I do this with every single one of my clients [to] help them TRACK their progress – to give you a little hint – and every single person [who actually implements this] over the course of at least three or four weeks, they look back and they’re like, “Wow! I can trace my progress back to starting to use this ONE TOOL!” It usually doubles or triples the amount of words that you produce in a week. So be excited.

 

All right  So when you’re coming in let me know your name [and] where you’re from …Thanks for the hearts… Oh yeah, intro time. I always forget to do this. I need a little reminder or something. Thanks for the hearts guys. If you like what we’re talking about, [you can] double-tap the screen, and that pops up hearts, and makes me happy, and lets me know that you’re engaged and that you like what we’re talking about.  I am Morgan Gist MacDonald. I’m a writing coach, an editor, and author. I run my business and my blog out of http://www.paperravenbooks.com . …Thanks for those yellow hearts…  I’m liking this energy. We’re doing good today – rain storms or [not] here in Houston.  It’s really raining and cloudy here, [and so] I’m trying to keep me energy up. It’s good.

 

Okay. So you can find out all about me, and my business, and my blog [at] http://www.paperravenbooks.com  I take Scope Notes so that you don’t have to take notes, and I post them on my web site. Let me show you the address :

 

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http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope [where] you’ll find Scope Notes , replays, and transcripts of all of my best Scopes,

 

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AND you’ll find the free tool that we’re talking about today there too. So, if you [joined] during the replay you can head over there. But this is the question I get asked ALL of the time, “How much should I be writing?” You’ve probably even read books, and articles, and stuff, [in which] everyone has their own opinion. A lot of people will say, “You need to write 500 words every single day.” I don’t think that. I actually think that if you convince yourself that there’s this certain quota that you have to meet every single day, [then] EVERY DAY is going to be a potential for you to FAIL, and then feel terrible about whether or not you failed. So I DON’T advocate setting a daily writing goal, because every day is so DIFFERENT! [For instance], you wake up sick, one of your kids wakes up sick, you have this emergency at work, [or] your car won’t start. I mean, stuff happens every day, and [so] we need to [just] RELAX and acknowledge that we have to just ROLL through every day doing the best we can. So I don’t set DAILY goals.

 

Instead, I recommend setting WEEKLY goals. Now I like weekly because it allows for some FLEXIBILITY. It’s like, “Okay. Monday was a terrible day, but I’m not going to feel bad about it because I KNOW that I still have this number of days in the week.” So there’s like a backup plan built into this …Thanks for the hearts guys. It’s awesome.So if you like what we’re talking about, tap that screen, and let’s do hearts…    So I recommend that if you want to make a time log…

 

Coleman Jennings ( https://twitter.com/CJenningsfilms ) : Make a time log. Good way to be accountable.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … “a time log. Good way to be accountable.”… That’s right. That’s EXACTLY where we’re headed. You, sir, know what you’re talking about. You’ve been doing this writing thing for a while…. Yes. So I recommend 3,000 to 5,000 words per week. I DO recommend that you count words, just because you need SOME form of MEASUREMENT. You need some sort of DATA. I mean, it can’t all be qualitative, “How I felt about writing.” If you rely on how you FELT about your writing week you’re going to go one of two ways. You’re either going to be naturally OPTIMISTIC, or naturally PESSIMISTIC about your writing. The optimistic side is going to be like, “”Oh yeah! I’m doing AWESOME. I’m making all of this progress.” – and you’re NOT. [Or] the pessimistic side is going to say, “Ugh! This is TERRIBLE. I’m not making  ANY progress” – when you ARE. NEITHER is realistic.  So, if you have SOME sort of QUANTIFIABLE data : word count, the number of minutes that you wrote THIS week, [etc.] THEN you can have a much more realistic picture of how much progress you’re actually making.  So I recommend 3,000 to 5,000 words per WEEK.

 

For MOST people this comes out to three to five hours a week, total. Sometimes it’s less than that. Honestly, I write about 1,500-2,000 words an hour. So that’s less for me. But everyone is different. Everyone’s process is different. Faster is not better. I have to do a lot of EDITING when I go back in [laughter], so FASTER is not BETTER. You just need to get to know your own pace. [I suggest] 3,000-5,000 words per week, [and] estimate three to five HOURS per week. And it TRULY DOES NOT matter if you write 30 minutes every day, or five hours on Saturday. There’s no evidence – anecdotal or [more hard scientific] study – that shows that one method of writing is better than another. It’s what works for YOU, and for your schedule.

 

The key is – and this is a HUGE key – [that] you HAVE to KEEP TRACK. You have to track your progress. This means [that] every single time you sit down to write, you’re writing down the date, the time, the number of minutes that you’re writing, and you’re writing down the WORD COUNT goal. Okay. So I’m actually going to flip you around [and] show you a spreadsheet that I created. I will show the one I ACTUALLY used when I was writing my book. Then I will show you where you can get your OWN FREE template. It’s really just a Google Sheet, and you can copy-and-paste it.      

 

Coleman Jennings ( https://twitter.com/CJenningsfilms ) : Don’t lie.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Don’t lie? Don’t lie about WHAT? I don’t lie. Well, I mean, I lie to my KIDS sometimes, but that’s really just to make them feel better about life [laughter]…. Okay. So I’m going to flip you around, and show you first the progress tracking sheet…

 

Coleman Jennings ( https://twitter.com/CJenningsfilms ) : Your minutes.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Oh, my minutes? Yeah. [laughter] I DO write fast, if that’s what you’re talking about… Oh, I see what you’re saying. This is the hard part about the chat, [is] that you guys get [only] 100 characters, and I have to [try to] make sense of the 100 characters, [so] it’s not your fault… When you’re creating your progress sheet you CAN’T LIE. You have to be HONEST, because that’s the only way you’re going to see your PATTERNS, and see where you can adjust. So let me flip you around now.

 

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Okay. This was writing my book in eight weeks. This was NOT a super long book, I will let you know. It ended up being about 30,000 words. So I was NOT writing a magnum opus, or anything. This was an EBOOK that was designed to give all of my best coaching advice, and to generate leads for my business, and to help people to write their book. So that was the purpose of this book.

 

This is in Google Sheets. I shared this Google Sheet with my accountability partner, and we talked through it EVERY week, and that made a HUGE difference also. So I had “Week 1”. You see [that] I started on February 16th. I like to write the DAY of the week – so I have “Monday” here – so I can start to see patterns [as to] whether the weekday or weekend is better for me.

 

Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  Oh, smart to share for accountability.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Yeah. Shalon says, “Smart to share for accountability.”… Yes. Google Sheets is GREAT for that. The time, the number of minutes – and I actually set a TIMER often, so my minutes are pretty rounded because I sit down and set a timer as soon as I start – and then the word count.

 

I also add a few other notes, [including] what I working on at that time. So I add all of those up, and then I get a [total of] words at the end of the week. Then I have a weekly review [that] I do at the end of the week, and I [conclude]… Did I meet my word count? Yes. What were my results? I did free writing and I created my rough organization. What were my struggles? Focus. What are my goals for next week? Finish rough organization …Thanks for the hearts guys… So you can see that, and you can see that sometimes I DIDN’T meet my word count goal. But even if I didn’t meet my goal I would still tell myself what DID I accomplish. It’s important to focus on what you DID accomplish.

 

Then [I] talk about what my struggles were. Here I said, “[I] Need to find two days when I can do MULTIPLE writing sessions.” So I was trying to do one each day, in the morning, but then if I SKIPPED a day it was like, “Well shoot! Now I need to do a double session.” [laughter] Because I write in 25 minute chunks. Then my goal for next week [outline] which chapters I want to finish drafting.

 

Okay. So if YOU want one of THESE for your own writing progress go to http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope

 

Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad ) : Loving this! So great to see behind the scenes.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Thanks Shalon… [irrelevant comment] So you can see [that] I’m going to get the replays up. When the replays are up they will look like that, but I am a little bit behind [because] it’s been a very busy week. If you go to Scope Notes for [today’s episode]. If you go to Scope Notes it will open up an Evernote file. I literally just share the Evernote file with you. I’m sorry [if] I’m lazy, [but] it works, and it’s fast.

 

Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope

 

Morgan MacDonald : …Thanks Shalon, for putting that in… [irrelevant comment] … If you just type in https://paperravenbooks.com/progress I have created a blank Google Sheet for you. You can take that,  copy and paste it, start using it yourself, AND share it with a buddy. I also gave you the link to my OWN Google Sheet, so that you can peruse it, if you’re interested [laughter].

 

Theouf (https://twitter.com/SpadXI ) Hi from France.

 

Morgan MacDonald : .. Hi from France…

 

Ayesha (https://twitter.com/LeAyeshah ) : Thank you so  much!

 

Morgan MacDonald : … You’re welcome, Ayesha. Okay. That is literally, truly, honestly, the Google Sheet that I used when I was writing my book. I DID go back and take out the typos, But you’ll see, in that Google Sheet in that Google Sheet that I did NOT reach my word count every week. I just didn’t.Life is busy. But you know what? I DID finish my book, and THAT’S the important thing. The word count sheet helps you to see the big picture in all of this, because it’s so EASY to get bogged down in the day-to-day, and at the end of the day you think, “Ugh! I didn’t do my writing.” Then you feel TERRIBLE about yourself. Instead, you need to take a deep breath, back up, and say, “Okay. I didn’t do my writing today, but I still have the rest of the week, and honestly, I’ve already written 12,000 words. I AM making progress.” So if you tend toward the pessimistic side – which is FINE, [as] there’s nothing wrong with being pessimistic – this helps you,  sort of, maintain that positive outlook on your writing, and say “Yes. I AM making progress.” So even if you don’t reach you word count goal every week, you CAN still finish writing your book. I promise. I did it. MOST of my weeks I did NOT reach my word count goal. So my shreadsheet which started out as “I will write my book in SIX weeks.” became, “I will write my book in EIGHT weeks”, and then I think it actually took me TEN. But you know what? It took me ten weeks, and I FINISHED it, and it’s totally fine [laughter]. You know? It’s not a big deal. So we need to learn to minimize the things that are not a big deal, and then CELEBRATE the things that we DO accomplish, and ARE a big deal.

 

So that’s my message for your guys today. It’s really busy today, so I’m not going to hang around for a Q&A, but [you can] hit me up on Twitter @morgangmac ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac ). I’ll be on a little bit later today [to] answer any questions.

 

Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  Amazing! All about measuring so we can have perspective.

 

Morgan MacDonald : … Thanks Shalon… Yes, measuring so that we can have perspective. It’s so true, because we skew our own experiences, and we just need to be NICER to ourselves. We need to grant ourselves some grace. We’re doing a good job. We’re making progress.

 

So keep that in mind, hit me up on Twitter @morgangmac ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac ), and I will see you guys tomorrow.  We’re going to do another Scope tomorrow. I haven’t decided what we’re Scoping about. I’m trying to PLAN AHEAD, but it will be awesome [laughter]. So join me tomorrow [for] the lunchtime writing scope, follow me if you’re not already, and I will see you guys later. Bye. Thank you.    

 

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