After I posted my writing summary for October, I thought about two more interesting charts. These two charts illustrate two things: the power of setting a writing goal, and how writing every day can get magnified in the aggregate.

I set a goal of writing 500 words of fiction every day. I have been aiming for this goal for the last 250 days. If you take this in aggregate, it means that, if I hit my goal exactly, in 250 days I should have produced 125,000 words. Some days I am under my goal, but more often than not I exceed it. If you aggregate each day’s actual writing and compare it to my daily goal, this is how things look after 250 days:

The blue line charts my aggregate daily progress (adding each days word to the total of the previous day). The red line aggregates my goal. The red is where I would be if I wrote exactly 500 words every day. Although it seems like I exceed my goal by just a few hundred words on most days, it actually aggregates to quite a bit. Indeed, in 250 days I’ve written just about 218,000 words–or 93,000 words more than my goal. Which when you look at it that way, is an entire novel more than what I aimed for.

I said I aim for 500 words each day, but I don’t always get 500 words. There have been several days where I wrote less than 500–sometimes far less. But there are many more days in which I exceed 500 words–sometimes by a large margin. This chart illustrates my “under-over.” The bars represent how much I exceed my goal or how far I fall short on a day-to-day basis. In a chart like this a 0 means I hit my goal, a negative number means I fell short, and a positive number means I exceeded my goal:

You can see that there are probably two dozen times where I didn’t make my goal. But there are many more ties when I exceeded it.  (That hump between late July and mid-September is where I was racing to finish the first draft of my novel.)

The under/over for 250 days averages to 371 words–which means I exceeded my goal, on average my 371 words. Or, put another way, over 250 days, I have averaged 871 words/day in my fiction-writing.

I mention this because although I don’t have a lot of time to spend writing each day–sometimes as little as 15 or 20 minutes, I do write every day, and by doing so, even in 15 or 20 minute snatches, I’ve managed to write nearly a quarter of a million words of fiction in 250 days. That’s more than I ever thought possible given the time I have available.

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