Setting Writing Goals

First, I urge you to set realistic writing goals. I am usually quite vocal about the vile taste that rises in my mouth when I hear about “write your book in a weekend” type programs. They make me want to pull my hair out! You might be able to write the first draft of a lead magnet to sell for ninety-nine cents on Amazon or hand out for free at tradeshows, but I fundamentally believe that a “real book” needs much more time and attention. Which leads most people to ask, “How long does it take to write a book?”

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” ― Bill Gates

Writing a Book is a Long Game

While lead magnets, blogs, videos, talks and social media posts are excellent intellectual property, your book is the ultimate IP. With a book, you are creating a legacy.

I listened to an interview with Bob Goff this week and he talked about the difference between Magnetic North and True North. When you are challenged to take a boat and chart a course from California to Hawaii, those couple of degrees between magnetic and true north make a huge difference in where you make landfall. Writing your book needs to be your true north, your core values, your meaningful message. It can’t be a flash in the pan attempt at magnetism for the sake of doing what’s cool and hip for the moment.

Assuming you have other commitments in life such as a career and/or family, sleeping, eating, and going out in public once in a while, you can easily expect it to take 6 months to a year and a half to write your book. Most of my clients take 8 months.

Writing Math

The average book is 200-250 pages long. The average page in a book has 250-300 words of text on it minus the white space at the beginning and end of chapters, and around bullet points or dialogue. If we err on the low end, your 200-page book has 50,000 words. If we err on the high end your 250-page book has 75,000 words.

Setting Goals

Now that you know how many words you need to write in your book, you can set a goal. For the sake of argument, let’s say you want 50,000 words in your first draft within 6 months. You will need to write 8,335 words a month or 2,085 words a week or 417 words a day if you write 5 days a week.


It’s not enough to set the goal, you have to execute on that goal. Now that you know how much you need to write, make yourself an Excel spreadsheet and attach some dates to create milestones with your word count. For some people, it’s enough of an incentive that they can cross off the daily word count on their to-do list, but others may need a little more accountability. Most of my clients need a human being to report to and someone to keep them on track when the rest of life gets in the way of the writing. If you are not hitting your goals with a spreadsheet, and you aren’t hitting your goals with a friend holding you accountable, talk to us about hiring a writing coach.

Actionable Strategy

If you are going to row a boat from California to Hawaii, you will need to chart the course to get there and you need to row. Decide when you want to finish your first draft of your book and then roll up your sleeves and write! Know that we are here for you if you get off course or hit a snag any step of the way.

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