An Update on 500 Words a Day: Does it Work?

Saturday, September 15, 2018
On July 12, I posted about writing 500 words a day on my current WIP (work-in-progress). Although I haven't managed to write 500 words every single day, I'm happy to report that I currently have over 60,000 words on a women's fiction novel. This is the longest manuscript I've ever written, and I can see the end in sight! I know where the novel is going, and I really BELIEVE that all the pieces will fit together for a satisfying ending (okay, after much revision, but still, I BELIEVE!).

This accomplishment is especially satisfying because I went for so long without writing creatively after getting three books for kids published...because life got in the way.

However, by setting a goal to regularly work on my novel and adding it to my to-do list every day, not only am I making progress on my creative writing, but I also have learned three things through this experience.

1. When you set a goal, even if you don't meet it exactly, it works out.
I'm writing three to four times a week (so it's working out to be every other day); and when I write, I usually get out between 1000 to 2000 words. You don't have to be a math major to figure out that I'm producing about the same amount of words every week, as if I was typing 500 words a day.

Also for the first time, I'm plunging ahead, even if I forgot a character's name or know my prose needs work. That's what revision is for. Just get to the end, I tell myself, and then I can go back and fix it. I like to call that the NaNoWriMo method.

2. Writing on a regular basis really is easier, when working on a novel, because you don't forget what's going on in your own manuscript, and therefore you save a lot of time. I used to think I needed at least an hour to write, and I did. I was constantly re-reading what I'd already written and fixing it and/or just reminding myself where I was in the plot. I don't have to do that any more because the characters and plot are fresh in my mind.

Plus, as I've mentioned before in a previous post, I make a note of what I need to write next, so that when I sit down to the computer, I can read that note and remember what I wanted to work on. Another thing I do differently this time--if I think of something I need to add earlier in the manuscript, then I make a comment in the sidebar, instead of going back and adding it right then. I will read those comments and get to them during revision.

3. If you read something that inspires you (I read You Are a Badass!), you need reminders of this inspiration to keep you motivated. Okay, maybe you don't need reminders, but I do. I've mentioned before how the book You are a Badass! inspired me, and I think it's one of the reasons why I made a pledge to finish this novel, to stop letting fear and stress rule my life; but it's so easy to slip back into our old habits and way of thinking. So I bought a daily calendar with quotes from the badass book. Every day I flip to a new date, and a new piece of Jen Sincero's book is on there, reminding me: I got this. I can do this. Nothing can stop me. 

What motivates you to work on  your novel? How do you make time for it? Do you feel like you're fighting yourself to accomplish your goals and dreams? 

Margo L. Dill is a writing coach and WOW! instructor, as well as a writer and freelance editor. You can enroll in her novel writing coach that starts the first Friday of every month by going here. She is also offering  a marketing class starting this fall (on September 26). Find out more about her at

Typewriter photo above by alexkerhead on


Angela Mackintosh said...

Margo, that's AMAZING! Congratulations on writing 60k! When did you start this routine? If my calculations are correct, it would take around 4 months at 500 words a day. That's totally manageable and fast. Did you outline first?

I'm in a constant battle with myself and have always been. Maybe I need to read that book. But I find self-help books to be motivating for a minute and then I quickly fall back into my routine and the thoughts that are holding me back. I like your idea of the calendar. My problem is I don't have one big project like a book, so maybe I should consider it again. I started off this year saying I was going to write a multimedia memoir, but then I gave up on the idea because I didn't know where to take it. But lately I've been writing a lot about my new adult, late teens/early twenties, years, and I feel a strong need to unearth the truths of my past. And your post is motivating me! :)

Margo Dill said...

Yay! I’m glad it’s motivating! I had some of it written but then restarted two times so I’ve been seriously working on it the entire summer—so yes I would say this summer I’ve written about 40,000 to 45,000 words! I’ve used a little of the old material (from the first two drafts)

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo said...

Whoa, congratulations! 60k is a LOT of words. I tend to burn out when forcing myself to write every day; on the other hand, when I try setting a weekly word count goal instead I end up skipping too many days and then losing focus on my project. No easy answers. :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--60,000 words? I have word envy.

For some reason I've hit a speedbump and have bottomed out. I'm hoping it was just due to a really busy week at work. We'll see.

Margo Dill said...

Elizabeth--I get it. Sometimes, it feels like a chore, but I try to do it anyway, and usually, it winds up being one of the best parts of my day. I read an article by a famous writer one time (can't remember who) who said something about writing even if she is sick or tired. She said if you had a day job, you would go when you are sick (a cold for example) or tired because you have to. You should treat writing the same way. Revise on the days you feel better. Produce all days. I try to follow that.

Sioux: KEEP GOING. I want to order you. LOL You have a great story. You are a good, talented writer. Don't let doubt set in. I believe in you!

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