Post: What does it mean to be a prolific writer?


You’ve heard it said that the first thing you must do to become a writer is write. While it may sound cliché, it’s also true. You’ll never “become a writer” if you don’t write and write often. For those who hope to earn a living as an author, the goal is to be prolific. Think in terms of being plentiful, abundant and existing in large quantities. 

Does that mean you must write 5,000 or more words per day? Nope. In fact, there have been prolific authors whose daily word counts were a mere 500, which is similar to the expectations of a short essay in elementary school. If you set a minimum word count goal, it doesn’t mean that you can’t exceed it. You might have a day where the ideas are just rolling out of your mind and onto the page. That’s fine. In fact, it’s great! However, as long as you’re meeting your minimum goal, you’re on the right track. 

Setting daily word count goals is the key to becoming a prolific writer

It doesn’t so much matter how many words you write per day as much as it matters that you set writing goals. You can fluctuate the goals if you prefer. Perhaps on Mondays and Fridays you’ll aim for 1,000 words but increase the goal to 1,500 on the other days of the week. Whatever system works best for you is acceptable. The point is to set word count goals and stick to them. 

A leading novelist of the 20th century, Graham Greene, wrote more than 20 books before he passed away in 1991. Greene once said it took him an average of one year to complete a novel. His daily writing word count was 500 words, and he would write five days per week. Late in life, he lowered his daily goal to 300 words. Greene kept up this habit throughout his career and is considered one of the most prolific authors of his time. Greene’s word count goals are much lower than prolific author, Stephen King, who aims for 2,000 word per day. Do whatever works for you.

Becoming prolific takes practice

You would never expect someone who plays baseball once every other week to become a Major League Baseball professional. Players who make it that far in the game practice constantly. They breathe, think, sleep and eat “baseball.” It’s who they are. If you hope to be a prolific author, you must practice your craft on a regular basis. Whether you set word goals, time goals or other goals, create a regular practice schedule and stick to it.

Some writers make the mistake of waiting for inspiration to hit before they sit down to write. What happens if it never comes? If you have a contract to write a specific number of books in a certain amount of time, you must keep your end of the deal, even if you don’t feel particularly inspired to write. Developing a habit of writing every day helps writers improve their skills. Practice doesn’t always lead to perfection, but it will definitely help you get better at whatever it is you’re trying to do, including becoming a prolific author.