It’s easy to imagine in the early days of a writing career, that words are a strictly rationed commodity, as if they’re drawn from a well that will one day dry up. This is because writing is hard, especially at the beginning.
In fact, words spring from a more or less limitless resource. When you’ve struggled your way through your first novel of, say, 60,000 words, then it might feel as though every one of those was an exquisite torture. But, just like a toddler taking their first faltering steps, writing becomes easier the more you do it.
The second 60,000 will be easier than the first and so on until you hit the million that many experienced authors consider the point at which you have truly found your voice.
So, every word you write is more practise that will improve you as an author. Aspects of writing you found an almost insurmountable challenge become simple and you move onto the finer points of tightening up your craft.
A violinist doesn’t ask why they need to practice. Anyone who’s ever learned a tune on the violin knows it can start painfully, but in the end your fingers move without thinking. The difference between those two states is practice.
As you move forward in your author career, productivity is likely to be one of the main issues you need to tackle. The more high-quality words you can write, the more books you can publish and, potentially at least, the more money you can make.[i] Crucially, however, you’ll be a better writer for producing those words.
However quickly you want to write, I suggest starting slowly and working your way up. I now write 2,500 words per day during the working week, but if you’d suggested I was capable of that when I started my first novel, I’d have laughed at you. And if I’d have taken you seriously, I’d have felt overwhelmed and, unable to get close to that level, I would have bailed out, assuming I was just not good enough to be an author.
There are still many authors who write more than I do, but I suspect 2,500 words a day puts me in the top few percent for productivity.
And the ten-minute habit was (and is) the foundation underpinning this.
[i] Yes, some people make lots of money from just a few books, but there’s a strong correlation between books published and earnings overall. Bestselling authors tend to have a big back catalogue, though having a big back catalogue doesn’t guarantee bestselling status.