500,000 Words by December 10, 2014 Tracking

Dr Evil One Million Words 150x125

Dr Evil One Million Words 250x208In my December 11, 2013 newsletter “One Million Words in One Year! You’re Nuts” which you can read at http://eepurl.com/Kv3rf I set the goal of writing 500,000 words in one year. I have many reasons for doing this such as:

  • Getting into the solid work habit of producing new writing inventory every work day.
  • Proving to myself that I can sustain a level and quality of writing necessary to become a full time writer.
  • Exploring exactly what kinds of inventory I’m producing so I can improve my habits. In other words focus on creating quality writing inventory (books & articles over emails, tweets, and Facebook posts).

The goal of this project is to train myself to be a serious full time writer. Many writers set quotas, and one seeming impossible quota many set to push themselves is to write one million words in one year. Being me, I analyzed the idea of writing one million words in one year. If I could meet this quota that would mean I would produce roughly 8 books a year. Could I do this?

As it turns out one million words in a year isn’t as impossible as it first feels. If you take weekends off, plus 4 weeks out of the year for vacation time, and another 4 weeks out for sick time/holidays you will have about 220 “work days” in a year. If you divide one million by 220 you come out with a quota of about 4,500 words a “work day.”

I usually produce 2,500-4,000 words in a three hour period. To complete the one million words goal I would have to work roughly five hours of actual writing a day. Which would be very doable if I was a full time writer. I spend about an hour in the morning answering emails and social media stuff, an hour or two on advertising, event planning, technical work on the web sites, etc. and then another hour writing (this is typical for week days). If I didn’t have to go to work I would easily be able to add five more hours in for pure writing.

I can’t spend five hours every weekday writing while holding down a full time programming job. But I can promise to spend a little less time on the other stuff and give at least two hours a day writing. That should let me meet half that. So there it is. I’m going to produce 500,000 words in the next year. This includes articles, newsletters, and of course books. Essentially anything that adds value to my “career as a writer” counts as words toward this goal. That said I do need to be sure at least ninety percent is actual valueable inventory like articles and novels.

This article is not going to be stagnent. I will update the numbers every couple of days and add notes as necessary. If you want to follow my progress just bookmark this page and come check up on me. Feel free to comment, I’ll even respond (hey it adds words to my daily quota).

The progress bar is in the right hand sidebar of every page on this site. So you can see it tick up ever so slowly with me. The other item is my spread sheet which I have automated and can just copy paste the table here. So keeping this up to date will be a snap.

Tracking Type Value
Last update: June 20, 2014
Days off taken: 11
Vacation Days:

11 / 20 Days. 55% Used

Sick Days:

0 / 20 Days. 0% Used


500,000 Words by Dec 10, 2014

Inventory Type Word Count
novels 65,679
short stories
articles 18,164
newsletters 1,641
e-mails 37,013
Total Words: 122,497



January 6: First note of interest is it really sucks to start such a goal just before a two plus week holiday break with family. Dang it the year is barely started and I have already burned half of my vacation time. Still I am not far from my general quota. This started on Dec 10, and with the book fair event I have only had 8 actual days of writing time, so the running average right now is about 1,500 words a day. A little under quota, but as any writer knows there are days of massive outpourings and days of more detailed work. Overall I would say this is looking good so far. I think I’ll add a working day’s count and running average to the summary table if I can figure out how to make Excel cough up the right value for real “work days.”

  • Had to work late yesterday. I’m wondering if I can count programming words…

    I think the answer is technically, yes, but really, no. :^)

  • Michelle

    Hi Leeland –

    I’m curious how you keep track of your words. I mean, I know where to find them at WORD, but what’s your “system” for logging them in all the different places–articles, blog, stories, novels. Do you use Excel to chart them?


    • Hello Michelle,

      I log the word counts in easy/quick sums into an Excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet has a couple of sections that contain HTML + calculations which auto-calculate the data and wrap it in table format HTML. I used this technique for keeping track of my book chapters and such. The way I wrap in the HTML is simply putting the HTML into separate cells with the calculating cells in between. So updating this page is simply copy and paste replacing the tables with the updated tables from the spreadsheet.

      I might write an article on how I track this stuff and share some example workbooks. They really are not all that complicated.

      Thank you for your support,
      + Leeland

  • Steve J.

    Hi Leeland,

    You have a SMART goal there and you’ve inspired me to do the same – not 500,000 though, I’ll be aiming for something a little smaller.

    I work as an IT Project Manager by day and battle for reading and writing time in the evenings and at weekends. I’m a big believer in setting goals to help meet objectives.


    • Thank you Steve!

      I really appreciate that. I need to update this page with the current word counts. Been so busy with everything I haven’t kept up on the record keeping.

      + Leeland