300 words a day

If your summer has been like mine, finding time to write is difficult. Schedules are in a shambles. Any time you do find, after spending the day breaking up childhood squabbles and entertaining visiting relatives, is not when you normally write.

I don’t know about you, but I’m grouchy if I don’t get to spend a little time at the keyboard each day. The habit I’ve developed over a period of time sends me to my computer for some quiet writing time first thing in the morning before my husband awakes and needs care. This spring and summer, we’ve had workmen in getting the house ready to put on the market, and since then I’ve needed to fix up the house every morning in case someone wants to see it. This has thrown my husband’s schedule off, so he now awakens when I do.

We writers are a resilient lot. I’ve found a block of time before I have to start cooking dinner when hubbie is occupied and I have the quiet I crave to let my characters come alive. (Or become dead. I write murder mysteries.) But that block of time doesn’t allow anything like a full day’s word count.

My solution is my 300 Words a Day. The workmen are gone. Ordinarily, no one is looking at the house. The relatives are back at their hotel. Hubbie doesn’t shout for me more than once or twice. The block of time I have generally allows me to write 300 words because by this time I’m tired and can’t manage any more that day.

You may find your time is after the kids are in bed. Or first thing in the morning. Or during your lunch hour in the break room at work. (I used to have an hour for lunch and would eat my sandwich while I wrote longhand.) Wherever you can break that hour or two out of your day.

There’s nothing magical about 300 words. That is just the word count that works for my time frame and mental acuity that late in my day. And if I only get 200 words? No big deal. I still feel the satisfaction of communing with the voices in my head and making progress on my newest story. In the time you can snatch from your day, you may only get 100 words. Or you may be a fast writer and come up with 500 new words. Whatever it is, it is more than you had yesterday and is to be commended.

Someday the children will be back at school. (It’s August! Yay!) Someday we will have a contract on this house and once we move, things will run smoother. And I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I made progress over this spring and summer.

I have a copied sign (currently packed away) that says:


This is my way of getting some writing done when the situation isn’t ideal. If my idea helps you make it through the summer, great! If it doesn’t, find your way to keep writing when things get tough.


Kate Parker is the author of the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, the Deadly Series, and the Milliner Mysteries. She’s used this technique to finish working on The Christmas Gamble in Christmas Revels V with fellow Ruby Sister Louisa Cornell, Anna D. Allen, and Rita finalist Hannah Meredith. Now she’s using it on her next novel, Deadly Deception.

20 responses to “300 words a day”

  1. Alyssa Henderson says:

    Great post and so true! I’ve had to dial back my expectations for what I can accomplish on a weekly basis. But I feel good about the fact I am still making progress.

  2. Kate, Your post hit me over the head, and well deserved too. I’ve been in such a funk with summer happenings stealing away my me-time to the point I’ve become a b****. I hate that I’ve let it happened. To be me and happy with me, I need that creative flow. Thank you, sister for the inspiration.

  3. Rita Henuber says:

    LOVE this. Writing is a marathon not a sprint. Glad your summer has settled down and you can write again.

  4. Addison Fox says:

    FANTASTIC post, Kate!!!! I am always amazed at what can be accomplished in short windows/bursts. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is giving ourselves permission to find that time.

    But I’m with you – I get cranky if i don’t write for too many days and get the chance to stay IN my manuscript. Sometimes those snatches of time are all a given day is going to provide.

    Good luck with the move!!

  5. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    Yes, Kate! Over the course of the summer, I have had to learn to write out of my normal schedule—that schedule I have cultivated over the years. I have a deadline looming, after all.

    I love summer! I really do. It’s my favorite time of the year when we have lots of planned and unplanned activities. But I, too, get grouchy when I’m not at least getting SOME words down. Every word written is one step closer to “the end”.

    Great post!

    • Kate Parker says:

      Finding the alternate schedule is almost as hard as finding the perfect word. I think writers need that creative time to put words down like we need to breathe.

  6. Kudos to you, Kate, for making it work during a difficult writing time. And I *LOVE* that sign. It’s easy to say we just don’t have the time right now. It’s hard to sit down and do it. But that’s what writers have to do. Great post. Bravo.

  7. Elisa Beatty says:

    Yeah…I’ve really got to get on this.

    I’m a teacher, so summer is my best writing time of the year (even with the kids at home). School starts again next week, and I’ve got to figure out how to get my “burst” time in each day. Work in progress….

  8. Encouraging post, Kate. Thank you for the reminder that snatching a little bit of time each day is still forward progress. After a trying two years, I’m still stumbling my way back into good writing habits, and have found that setting aside 15 minutes is a good start. Not so much pressure that I feel like I failed if I don’t make my word count, but enough time to feel like I accomplished something each day. 🙂

  9. I need that sign, Kate!!! Love this! And I agree. Even a little bit, when done daily, will get you farther than the writers who, like the sign says, make excuses.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Thanks, Kate. This is a very timely post. Seems the summer is crammed full of other things but carving out just a few minutes with a manuscript can keep the flow going. Good luck selling your house!


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