Fiction writers: your record for words in a day

My record is 4,400 words in a day, and I was exhausted when I finished. It was the longest short story I ever wrote, called What hath God Wrought. The idea came to me, in its entirety (every scene, every character, and even some of the dialogue), when I was in the shower. It took me eight hours in two sittings to get it out of my head and onto the page. At that time (1993), I rarely wrote more than 500 words in a day.

Since then, I’ve written over 4,000 words once more (finishing the first draft of my second novel), and over 2,500 words a few times. My usual amount now is 1,000 a day (on the days that I write, which isn’t very often any more).

I’ve read some incredible things about famous authors writing fast, but I’m not sure I believe it. Voltaire is supposed to have written Candide in two days, Stevenson to have written Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a few days, and London to have written The Call of the Wild in a couple of weeks. All three are rather short novels, but it’s still hard for me to believe. I think my brain would explode if I wrote ove 2,000 words two days running.

The best I ever did was about 10 pages in a day… that probably translates roughly into the 4000-5000 word range.

But, hell, I’m a fast typer when the desire strikes me, and the desire comes and goes willy-nilly…

I wrote about thirty terrible pages of my novel in about three hours’ time. I immediately deleted it and rewrote it, this time taking about five days. It came out much, much better.

Props all around, even on the aborted draft, RicoLaser. :slight_smile:

My record is much smaller. If 10 pages translates to 4000 words (that just doesn’t sound right to me, dude), then I’d guess I’m in the 2500 word range.

I have, on more than one occasion, written two chapters (about 6000 words) at one sitting. I was in between jobs at the time. I’d start at about 10pm and not even notice when the sun came up.

I can’t imagine doing that now, though.

I’m not sure how many words it is, but the longest short story I’ve written in one session is 17 pages.

I had it all planned out in my head but hadn’t written a stroke until it 10 PM the night before it was due - at my 8 AM Creative Writing workshop the next morning. Stayed up all night to finish it in time and it was surprisingly good. It’s still one of my favorites.

I once did 7,700 in a day but that was an essay not a story. The most I’ve done on a story is a paltry (by comparison) 2000 words or thereabouts which translates to about 3.5 pages.

Back in 1992 or 1993 I wrote about 6500 words in five hours in a white-hot heat of inspiration, a complete short story. Would love to find out how to get back into that Zen groove of writing.

Probably about the 4500 words on Cecil Cove 3 I wrote on the plane back from Athens just last Thursday.

For nonfiction, I did write a 32 page report in 48 hours once, with no figures or tables. My fingers hurt for weeks.

I’ve written probably about 30 pages in a day, too, but it also ended up being mostly crap and had to be edited down.
Oh, and remember, Robert Louis Stevenson was a cokehead, so it’s possible he could have written Dr. Jekyll… while speeding out of his mind.

Actually, no idea how many words. Generally, I write from 5:30 to 8:00 a.m. each weekday morning. Those same evenings I edit from 7:00 to 8:00. On Saturdays I do any major rewrites, I, my editors or publisher feels are necessary.

I once had an editor ask how many words I had done up to that point. I checked and from then on in that story, I was thinking about words and not letting the story come. Since then I have religiously avoided counting. My current editor, like his predessor, knows not to ask.

It is pobably just a silly mind set, but I don’t want to chance it again. I was even a bit worried about responding to this thread in fear of the jinx returning.


Just finished the first draft for the Mark Twain short story contest sponsored by the Buffalo library. It has a 5,000-word max. limit and I had written about 500 words already. I raced through my outline, plugged in the previous work, and when I was done, hit the word-count button for the first time: 4,983. Felt like I hit a turnaround jumper from the three-point line. (Of course, it’ll all have to be re-written as well, but I didn’t want to tell myself at the time.)

I also felt wiped out the rest of the day, which is something my wife still doesn’t understand. “How can you be tired? You were just typing.” (Actually, she’s grown understanding since we got married.)

When I really get motivated I can do about 5,000-6,000 words in a day. But that’s rare. More common for me is about 1,000-2,000 per day. Right now I just write for the web–my trilogy (so far) of Shadowrun novels total around 600,000 words and almost 1,900 pages, and the first was started in January of '98. Talk about no life! :slight_smile: One of these days I’m gonna write one to submit for publication, but my version of the world is a little off the beaten path for canon SR novels. I figure mine make good practice.

I have an opposite record.

I’m going through the novel I’ve completed for the third time, doing a rewrite on some sections.

I settled in, a full day ahead of me, sunny, coffee laden, sharp pencils, good CDs on the stereo…

looked at the first page…

changed one word…

and was locked. Total blank for the rest of the day.

So I packed it in and watched Universal Soldier.

On one particular day while in the first draft of my work-in-progress, I spewed out thirty-five pages in an eighteen-hour sitting. Spewed is right. Just like that of the other folks who did 30+ pgs, mine was mostly crap. But that 35pg stretch was not the worst part of that first draft. In fact, a friend who read the entire first draft liked that bit the most… or I should say, hated it the least.

In what’s now the fourth draft, there’s not much of anything remaining of the first.

Well, I’m basing it on one of my short stories… 16 pages translates into 8759 words… so shrinking that down to 10 pages, I made the estimate of the 4000-5000 range…

'Course, your mileage may vary… I have a tendency to use lots of big words when I write.

About 4-5 pages (1000 to 1250 words?).

Why so little? Because I have the habit of editing constantly while writing the rough draft. Lots of stopping and restarting.

I usually write papers in one big heave-ho, so take my ISP (Independent Study Project), which was something like 12 pages long. Did that in two hours. 12 pages is something like 4,000 words.

Then there’s a story I wrote for a doper, all in one sitting. 3,000 words in two hours, but that required much more thought (I wasn’t writing about what I knew, and it had positions).

For my Philo 100 final I wrote four papers in that one day, and they were all 3-4 page papers. So 12-16 pages in one big sitting, think about 5,000 words.

I can, given proper inspiration, type for any (reasonable) amount of time, but it is generally crap (I tend to pad, a tendency learned a long time ago when I was ordered to write essays and I was still in that subject-verb-object mode, instead of using adjectives and gerunds and such).

Anyone want to trade stories? Not anecdotes. :slight_smile:
I mean: you send me one of yours to read and I send you one of mine?

Just an idea.