hand writing in journal

Keep a Book Writing Log to Build Momentum

As with many dreams, the plan proves NOT to be the problem in writing a book. Even when you don’t feel like writing. Or I should say, ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like writing. The quandary is execution.

Authors often ask how I write for such long hours in one day. My answer: I want to get on the downside of the mountain.

Here’s the thing: When signing a publisher’s contract and starting to draft a new book, the long hours just to “get into the project” wearies me like an uphill climb.

From my experience in writing the first few dozen full-length books, I know I should be able to write 2,000 words a day, . . . 2,500 on a good day, . . . and 3,000 on a great day.

From the starting point, I also know how long the book should be. (For those like me who sell their books to a major publisher, the contract actually states the required number of words. For business and self-help books, most publishers these days ask for about 35,000 to 50,000 words. For novels, the major publishers want 80,000 to 120,000 words.


How Keeping Track of Your Writing Leads to a Better Book

Typically, if you’ve outlined first (which I highly recommend for both fiction and nonfiction books) you’ll know how many chapters you need to bring the book to the appropriate length.  For the most part, in nonfiction, you want your chapters to be roughly the same length. That doesn’t mean, of course, all chapters are going to be exactly 18 pages. But you certainly don’t want to have ten chapters to run 15-20 pages each—and then one chapter of only three pages.

When that’s the case, readers often feel that you didn’t plan well or “skimped” in some places.

So in the writing process, here’s where my yellow tablet comes in handy. You might find this log technique productive for you as well: Add the following column headings across the top of your tablet or on a spreadsheet:

Date  /   Chapter #   /    Manuscript Page Count  /    Word Count  /    Cumulative Word Count

As you finish each chapter, record the page count and word count. At the end of the day, record the cumulative total.

At about the 25 percent mark, you start to feel excited. Ah, one-fourth already done! A few days, later, you hit the 50 percent mark, and you start to roll downhill. At the 65 percent mark, you’ll stomp the accelerator and build even stronger momentum to the finish line.

If you hit your daily quota before your typical stopping time, you have a choice:  1) Reward yourself by stopping early, or 2) if things are going well, keep writing and get even farther ahead.

Faster and faster until the end. The daily log and quota provide GREAT motivation—especially on the days when you “don’t feel like” writing.

When you’ve finished a particularly difficult chapter, make the reward bigger: Your favorite dinner. A $10 bill dropped in a box to go toward buying a luxury item the day your complete the book. A long phone conversation with a great friend or family member you’ve not seen recently.

Continue racing to the end. Editing your finished draft is a totally different—and fun—step in the book-writing process. But to reach that point, you have to finish a first draft.

And while we’re talking about writing quality books quickly, consider joining us at the next Booher Book Camp. You can develop a winning book proposal, write a query to land a literary agent, and learn how to build an empire of products based on your book.


Whatever routine works for you, capitalize on it. Just like runners in a 26.2-mile race, you’ll finish your marathon on a writer’s high.


Want to learn more ways to achieve your publishing goals? Sign up for Dianna’s Booher Book Camp. Learn more at BooherBookCamp.com

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