Best Writing Advice I’ve Received

One of the questions I like to ask authors I’m interviewing is to share the best writing advice they’ve ever received. The responses are always enlightening—a beneficial take away of reading my blog. While recuperating from an ugly fall (the bad news) and being limited in getting around, I’ve recently been able to take advantage of the best writing advice I’ve ever received (the good news).

These words of wisdom come from fellow author, Margo Dill, who notes on her own blog, Look To the Western Sky, that she set a goal for herself to write 500 words a day. Margo was using 500 words a day as a writing benchmark and has given readers updates on her progress writing a new novel. For me this was terrific advice, as my writing output has now increased dramatically.

It works because 500 words is a fairly small chunk, yet big enough to leave me with a sense of accomplishment. Instead of staring into the vast void of a computer screen, breaking my writing down into an obtainable amount of words might mean I write a quick article or blog post for one of the organizations I volunteer with, or work on my next mystery novel, The Woman With the Cheshire Cat Grin. Whatever the reason, aiming for 500 words seems to energize me and I want to write more. I usually write well past the number.

Full disclosure: I don’t write every single day. Some days my Crohn’s or the side effects of the medication I take that keeps it in remission, make it simply too painful to write. But I now write much more consistently, and if I miss the goal, it’s not as difficult to make up the difference. Five hundred words is also more manageable. When I hit 500 I imagine I’m sitting at a slot machine, having just won a big jackpot. Lights flicker, bells ring, and the word WINNER flashes in my head. Once I’ve had my moment of success, it’s back to writing.

So thank you Margo, for imparting advice that is the most worthwhile I’ve ever received as a writer. The word count of my new mystery novel just passed 30,000, reaching a milestone of a third of the way done. Do you have a magic word count number you try to reach consistently? If you do, how has obtaining that goal affected your writing overall?


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