How Much Can I Write In a Day?

I have this daydream. Not of winning the lottery. No, when I daydream, it’s of becoming a full-time writer. What would it be like not to have to report to a day job? To set my own schedule, and write. Would I be disciplined about it? For the last 815 days I have been writing in 20-40 minute chunks for the most part. Would I be capable of adjusting to a schedule which would allow me to write for hours each day?

Well, I am not a full-time writer, but it is still possible to experiment. And one such experiment is taking place this weekend. Me and couple of other writers are getting together for a “writers retreat.” We have an Airbnb reserved at a point halfway between where I live and where they live, and tomorrow, I’ll drive down and we’ll get started. Roughly 48 hours where I can simulate what it might be like to be a full-time writer.

Actually, it is a poor simulation, since I’ll be away from my family, and away from distraction. It is more isolation than simulation. Still, it is not often where I have two days to nothing but write. And so I wonder: how much can I actually write in 2 days?

Looking at my data over the last 815 consecutive days that I have written, my best day1 came on February 24, 2015 when I wrote just over 7,100 words. I spent nearly 6 hours writing that day. But of course, I had other things to do as well.

Best Writing Day

But beginning tomorrow, I’ll have about 48 hours that is essentially dedicated to writing. How much could I possibly write in that amount of time? Well, assuming that I’ll spend 14-16 hours of that time sleeping, and another 5 hours driving, that takes us down quite a bit, to around 28 hours. Then there is time for meals, which can knock of another chunk of time, but it might be reasonable to assume somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 hours spent writing.

I can write roughly 1,500 words/hour, which means in 20 hours, I could produce 30,000 words. Let’s call that the maximum. Actually, if I could manage to produce 30,000 words this weekend it would be kind of cool, if for no other reason than it would push me to 700,000 words in my consecutive day writing streak:


Realistically, given that there will be other folks there doing the same thing I am doing, I have to expect a slower pace. That said, I know exactly what I am going to try to do this weekend: finish a full draft of a novella that I have been struggling with for well over a year. I know the story well now, as I have written a first draft before. (Although not a good one.) My second drafts are always complete rewrites, and it is the second draft that I plan to produce over the weekend. I expect it to be in the neighborhood of 20,000 words. Producing 20,000 words in 20 hours is 1,000 words/hour. Call that the minimum.

So, somewhere between 20,000 – 30,000 words over the course of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Anyone want to guess how much I will actually write? Leave your guesses in the comments, and I will post my results when the weekend retreat is over.

  1. Best meaning most words written in this instance.

4 thoughts on “How Much Can I Write In a Day?

  1. I often dream about the same thing. Even on days when I don’t have anything planned, and could theoretically write most of the day, activities seem to pop up. A retreat sounds awesome. Can’t wait to hear about the experience. Enjoy!

  2. I’m guessing that you’ll get into “the zone” and comfortably blow right through that 30k word maximum. Just pace yourself, take breaks, and enjoy the process!

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