Writing speed? 2,500 words per hour

Reading time: Less than one minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about the writing speed of romance novelists….

When I meet with new clients, I ask them to tell me how many words they can write in 30 minutes. Fewer than one percent can answer the question. And most laugh. Or are puzzled. (Or, perhaps, think I’m crazy.)

But it turns out that romance novelists can answer it. The most successful ones write 2,500 words per hour.

I learned this from an Aug. 4/17 story in Quartz, a digital news outlet for business people. Headlined, “Professional romance novelists can write 3,000 words a day. Here’s how they do it,” the story was written by Thu-Huong Ha.

Here is how she begins:

Writing is not a sexy business. It’s not a rare butterfly that floats down and gently kisses you on the nose with a brilliant idea that conjures a hurricane of cash. It’s frustrating, and it’s lonely, and for most people, it doesn’t pay. But one genre consistently makes it work. Romance writers who are able to get published or sell their books through self-publishing are true hustlers.

In the fascinating story that follows, Thu-Huong outlines their strategies: set a daily word count goal, use a ticking clock (or app) to time yourself, use a placeholder — like this: ** — if you can’t think of the word you want, set boundaries with family and friends, write crap for awhile.

I’ve never been interested in writing a romance novel but I recognize these strategies as smart and I know they work for other types of writing, too. Give this story a read and adopt some tricks from the ultra-productive.

Thanks to my friend Peter Wilson for referring the story to me.