Well, in truth, somewhere between 700,000 and 1,000,000 key strokes.

That is what it takes to write a 250 page book. I have just started my third one for the University of Toronto Press (and my 5th in total).

The big picture, thinking of all that work -- is a real buzz killer -- so I start each new book with a numbers game.

Thinking about 1,000,000, or 700,000 key strokes, or 80,000 words, 550 footnotes, 450 bibliographic sources, or 250 pages is too overwhelming.

So I do what got me through my Doctoral dissertation.

Break it down into the smallest work units.

To finish the writing and submit the manuscript to my editor before Christmas 2012 (an arbitrary deadline that will see my third academic book come to print in my 50th year) I need to write between 300 and 400 words a day. It is an old adage among writers -- a page a day.

I'll soon put a daily word count up on the fridge so my wife and I can celebrate each day's gain. Careful tracking of progress is a key habit for attaining goals.

Let the counting games begin . . .