Tuesday 28 February 2012

Word counts can be your friend

I was talking to Helen Howell, Adam Byatt and Larry Kollar last night about word counts, particularly since I was pleased I'd managed to put in 1800 words on my sequel to The Guns of Retribution. It sounds like a lot, but I've been working on a schedule of 500 words per day. It's a manageable amount, so that if I have to miss a day, I can catch up the following day with little effort, but I'm more inclined to write since it's "only" 500 words. If I want to write more, then I do, but I usually stick to my word count.

Why am I doing this? Well I'm aiming at a total word count of 30,000 as it's a novella, and I figured I could write my novella in just sixty days if I wrote 500 words every day. As I've said, 500 is a small enough amount to make it manageable, and it's a large enough amount to make a daily dent in my target. I've never skipped more than two days in a row, and as such, I'm still on schedule to finish the first draft by the end of March. It also means that I have time to work on the sequel, as well as working on my PhD and writing a weekly Friday flash. WIN!

I'm only really talking about it for the benefit of the people who say they don't have time to write. If you're the type who feels like you've not really done any work unless you've sat down and blitzed 2000 words in one sitting then no, you possibly don't have time. But if you're happy to chip away at your target on a daily basis, then you'll find 500 word instalments add up in no time. I'm already at 19,000 words! Since I've found 500 words easy enough to manage, I'm intending to up my limit to 1000 words when I come to write my next novella.

So give daily word counts a go and see how much more of that novel you manage to get down.


Steven Chapman said...

Sounds like a plan. I’m about 10-15k from finishing my current novel but I’m finding it hard to set aside the time to complete it at the moment. I think its because I keep trying to get the whole thing done in one night and stressing myself out. 500 words a day sounds like a good approach to getting things done and not putting too much pressure on myself.

Good luck finishing for March!

Tony Noland said...

Excellent approach, Icy.

Helen A. Howell said...

I totally agree with you icy, a nice steady pace keeps one writing. ^_^

John Wiswell said...

Even when I don't have any other responsibilities I find word minimums keep me accountable and on track. When the syndrome acts up, the more lenient word-count and plot-progress goals are assuring in just the way you described - they feel like something I can get done today and have it off my shoulders.

Unknown said...

I also recently started using a daily word count to keep me accountable to my projects. I'm easily distracted these days....

liminalfiction said...

Good idea, thanks Icy. It took me 3 years (way too long) to write the 1st draft of my 60,000 word novel (novella?). I don't even dream of starting the 2nd novel I'd like to write, but maybe a word count minimum per day or week would make the task less daunting.

Unknown said...

I did this on my last trip (I tend to end up on 3 week-long trips fairly frequently for work), and was able to hit those word counts consistently. This was the first time I'd actually accomplished getting writing completed on a trip so I'll be trying it again on my trip later this month. Good luck with the sequel!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Steven - Thanks!

Tony - Well it works for me.

Helen - Small and steady wins the race!

John - It makes it manageable, doesn't it?

Donna - Yeah, a word count makes you feel like you can let yourself be distracted once you've done the words!

Richard - It breaks it down into bits, so it's not a novel you have to write, just a portion of it on a daily basis.

Aidan - Thanks!

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