(NOTE: I'm a career author, with 40 years in the career and 130 published novels; writing is my full time job, I do not have the option to skip a day if I don't feel like writing; so my daily output and writing schedule is not typical of a beginner, and if you wished to attempt it, it'll take several years of practice to reach.)
When I first started, I had difficulty getting into a writing habit, writing daily, or even writing at all. Writing daily was a goal I thought impossible, reaching a 1,000 words a day seem unattainable, writing a million words in a year a pipe dream. Today I average 10,000 to 17,000 words a day, my record being 37,000 words in one day, and I write & publish between 3million to 6million words a year now.
You CAN start from very small beginnings and eventually reach huge heights, but it doesn't happen over night, and just like playing sports, it requires a lot of training, practice, and dedication, persistently repeated for years on end, before you start to see the long term results.
In my early days I tried repeatedly to write 1,000 words a day. I would write 400 words 1 day, skip 3 or 4 days and write 200 words, skip a few more days and write 500 words, and by the end of the month barely have reached 3,000 words and felt like I was getting nowhere.
I soon realized that I simply had set my goal too high. 1,000 words a day, 7 days a week, was just too much for me. 400 words a day, 3 days a week, seemed to be the most I could reach. It left me frustrated and feeling like I was a failure.
I changed my goal from 1,000 words a day, 7 days a week, to 700 words a day, 3 days a week (Mon/Wed/Fri) and, this worked. 700 was just enough more then 500, that it kept me feeling like I was moving forward. Every other day, gave my hands a break, which as it turned out, was part of the problem.
I did not realize it at the time, but the act of writing, puts a lot of physical strain on your fingers, wrists, and forearms... the same as for a piano player. Writers, like pianists, end up with massively strong hands that wrestlers envy having. Like dancing, aerobics, or football, you have to do warm up exercises, otherwise your fingers become exhausted and your brain develops writer's block as a way to force you to give your hand muscles a rest.
This it turns out, was my problem, but I didn't know it back then.
By writing in small bursts every other day, I was able to slowly build up the muscle strength of my fingers.
After a few months, of 700 words 3 days a week, my hands were used to typing enough, that now I could type longer and more often.
s it turns out, it was not the amount of words or the amount of pages per day that I needed to strive for, but rather, the amount of time typing, vs the amount of time resting my hands in between. By pacing the physical act of writing and taking breaks in between, I ended up able to write a lot more words per day.
Within a few months, I was writing 700 words per session, 3 sessions per day, 7 days per week, averaging a whopping 14,700 words per week. Writing far above and beyond the original 1,000 word goal. It stunned me that I was suddenly about to write so much. because I had not thought it possible.
I continued on in this manner for a few years, not trying to increase my word count.
And then, November 2006, my 3rd year doing NaNoWriMo, I did the absolutely unthinkable, and wrote 50,000 words in 3 days, winning NaNoWWriMo on day 3 instead of day 30.
What was the secret?
Those things combined, were the secret to my suddenly being about to write HUGE word counts per day, after struggling for years trying to reach even a few hundred words a day.
Here's what I did that worked for me:
I found that I do my most writing first thing in the morning, as in, as soon as I wake up, before getting out of bed. I just sit up and start typing. Well, that usually requires getting up and going to a desk, setting up, ect. And by that time I've lost my motivation. So, now the computer is right on the nightstand, and soon as I wake up, I start typing... don't even have to sit up, just put the keyboard on my lap, prop my knees up. Type straight up stream of consciousness. It may or may not make scene as I'm still half a sleep, but, it gets any ideas out of my head and on paper before I forget them.
This also acts as early morning exercise that gets the blood flowing through my fingers and acts as a warm up before I start doing my actual writing.
5AM: After getting up, eating, etc. Walk my dog. This gets the blood flowing everywhere.
7AM: Start typing. Doesn't matter what. If I can't think of anything for my current story, then work on a different story, or write a blog post, or write a non-fiction article, or go to Seventh Sanctum or Chaotic Shiny and use one of their writing prompts, anyone a random, and no matter what it gives me, just start writing about it. The point is to sit down and start typing and don't stop typing for 45 minutes straight of uninterrupted typing.
After 45 minutes, get up get a drink of water - drink an entire 16oz all at once. Eat something (apple, chips, broccoli, bagels, popcorn, cheese, M&Ms, pretzels, carrots, toast, whatever....didn't seem to matter what exactly it was as long as I've got something in my system.) Use bathroom. Walk around outside with my dog for 15 to 20 minutes. Get blood circulating through body again.
9AM: repeat as for 7AM, type 45 minutes, followed by 15 to 20 minute break as outlines above.
11AM: repeat as for 7AM
After 45 minutes. Take a long break. Drive to store, do any chores, cook dinner, etc.
4PM: repeat as for 7AM
7PM: repeat as for 7AM
9PM: Edit, revise, research, etc.
11PM: second long break, supper, movie time, etc. Go to bed.
The point is, to write in sessions, with each session divided up between drinking lots of water, eating, and getting up to move around.
I changed times around a lot before find one that worked for me.
For me, typing in 45 minute sessions with a 15 to 20 minute break every 45 minutes, and then 2 long 1 to 2 hour breaks during the day, worked best for me.
By doing this, I found that my hands don't tire out so easily, I don't get so sleepy, and I learned from some research studies done by various universities, that the reason I no longer get writer's block after starting this schedule, is because I'm now drinking 1 and 1/2 gallons of water a day, and that by being so very hydrated, my brain is better able to fire synapses, resulting in more fluid thought processes. (Apparently if you get dehydrated it causes your brain to respond sluggishly and causes writer's block, according to several various studies.)
Within 6 months of switching to this sort of a schedule, I went from typing 23 to 35 words a minute, to consistently typing at 91 words a minute, with 175 words a minute happening when I get into a "writing zone".
Again, pointing out however, that writing is my full time job and I am devoting a minimum of 8 hours a day to doing nothing but typing. If you have a non-writing career/job/work/school/etc that takes up the bulk of your time, you would have to adjust the writing schedule to fewer times per day, in shorter spurts, and worked around your job/school/etc. Also I do not have any children, so I have more free time then a writer who had children to care for. So, my word counts are reaching numbers that would not be so easily reached if I had an outside job, school, and family to adjust my schedule around.
If becoming a career author, publishing 4 or 5 novels a year (novels as in 120,000 to 300,000 words per novel) is your goal, then it will require vast amounts of dedication, sticking with a schedule, and writing for long hours every day. With time you'll reach numbers in excess of 10k words a day, simply because it's the standard thing you will have to teach yourself how to do if you want to become a career author. In a career like this, writing any under 10k a day is not an option. (Do note that the average published novel brings in a lifetime income of $5,000 and if you are publishing anything less then 4 novels a year, you will not make enough money to live on.)
However, if writing is not a career goal, but rather you just want to write a few stories to share with friends and publish a novel for the sake of publishing one as opposed to publishing novels as a source of income (which requires you publishing 4 novels a year), then it really doesn't matter how many words a day you write.
There are many career authors who wish, that like the hobbyist, they had to option to write whenever they felt like it, could write as little or as many words as they wanted, or had the option to take days off from writing. In many ways you are lucky that you ONLY have to write a 1,000 words a day 2 or 3 days a week. If you are looking to make writing a career, then cherish these days while you have them, because they will soon be gone and you won't have the option to turn back, not if you want to pay the bills and keep food on the table.
In the end, I stop writing for word counts years ago.
Now I write by scenes and chapters. I tend to write 2 or 3 scenes per session, and finish 3 chapters per day. Most chapters being around 4,000 words each. So right now, I doing roughly 12,000 words a day.
Word counts really don't matter to me any more. They used to back, decades ago when I first started. But now that I'm in the habit of writing, I just sit down and write and no long think about how many words. Instead I think about character motivations and character goals and solving character problems. For me, filling up my characters' lives with interesting things has become far more important then how many words I do it in.
>How fast do you write?
91 words a minute is my average when typing a first draft (about 5k per hour), 35 words a minute during the editing and revising stage (about 2k per hour); once in a while I've reached 175 words a minute when in a writing zone (about 10k per hour), but that's rare and highly unusual
(I took secretary typing class back in the 1980s)
>Just wondering how thoughtfully you construct sentences and how pensively you put words together when writing your first draft of anything.
Not very. My first drafts are fragments and run ons galore. And I have an English degree and should know better too! LOL!
On the other hand, each novel goes through about 17 drafts, usually gets edited 12 times and revised at least 5 times before it gets published.
It takes me 15 to 20 days to write 120,000 word novel or 30 to 40 days to write a 300,00 word novel. But then it takes me about 4 to 8 months to edit and revise and polish it for publishing.
>Do you just write really fast and jot down anything that comes to mind
Full on stream of consciousness writing. If it doesn't make sense, well, that what editing if for. I can take it out later while editing. But not while writing. While writing, I stop for nothing, nothing stops the flow... and the spelling and typos of my first drafts are horrific, but, at least I got the story written down, which is more than a lot of people ever get done. So, there's that at least.
>do you really linger on each word carefully?
Because nothing annoys me more then reading a story that I have to stop and look up every other word, because the author unnaturally spent time looking for "just the right word" and hunted through many a thesaurus to find it.
Big fancy, well thought out words, that no one uses in every day conversation, makes for crappy reading. And sence I wouldn't read it, therefore I refuse to write it, either.