Monday, October 22, 2012

Pushing Your Word Count: WSG 27

The writing world holds its breath and in a few days will exhale a flood of excitement. Yes, it's almost NaNoWriMo time again!! Every November, throngs of writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words of a new book. Some break the word count into daily goals, some into weekly goals, but by the time November ends, even if they didn't "win" with 50,000 words, most participants have exceeded their normal, non-NaNo word counts.


Too Many Words
Photo by chaceofspades

How do they do it?

There are two keys:

1. Group support
2. Pushing to meet a goal

Since everyone starts their new project on November 1st, it's like a race, but instead of competing against each other, everyone encourages their fellow writers to keep going. It's easy to check in on Twitter (use #NaNo) or Facebook to stay accountable and get much-needed motivation.

While I don't participate in NaNoWriMo, I always get inspired by the people who do. I usually am writing a first draft during November, and I love that my word count piles up before the holidays. It's great to end the year on a high note!

Here are ways I push my word count limit on a daily basis:

* I tell fellow writers I'm pushing myself to high goals, and I check in with them throughout the week to let them know how I'm doing (Accountability).

* I break my writing sessions into short chunks and take "reward" breaks. I used to write for 3-4 hours straight, but I find I get higher word counts--and I feel better--on days I write for an hour, take  a short break, write for another hour, work on another task, etc... If you do not have much time to write, try 30 minute sessions. (Endurance)

* Break your overall word count into weekly and daily word count goals. Decide on your target end date. Have your calendar in front of you when you do this. It's easy to "forget" the non-writing commitments you've signed up for over the next few months,  not to mention any holidays! I've learned the hard way that the day before Christmas break will NOT be productive. I never schedule big word counts for hectic times! (Realistic goals)

     **If you want to write an 85,000 word novel in three months, you'll need to write 7083 words every week for 12 weeks. If you have two days a week to write, you'll need to write 3540 words/day. If you have five days, you'll need to write 1416/day. Seven days? 1011/day. **

* Track your progress EVERY writing session. Write the date, the amount of words you wrote, the total words overall, and calculate how many you still have to write. Doing this gives you solid proof progress is being made. It will keep you motivated. (Results)

* Ask other writers on Twitter to join you in a #1k1hr session. This is where you push yourself to write 1000 words in one hour. You then post the actual number of words you wrote. It's a great way to keep it fun! (Challenge)

* Remind yourself you don't have to "be in the mood" to write. You don't have to have three hours of a cleared schedule. You just have to show up and write. That's all. You can fix anything while revising, but you have to get it on paper first. (Attitude)

Writing is fun! But taking three years to write six chapters of a book isn't. Part of successful writing is momentum. We have to keep our writing muscles toned or they weaken. When we eventually have to build them up again, we waste precious time and energy. Keep pushing yourself!


Do you challenge yourself to reach high word counts? I'd love to hear your tricks!

Have a wonderful Monday!






38 comments:

  1. Even though I don't do NaNo (always falls at the wrong time for me), I do push myself whenever I write a first draft. I aim for 250 words an hour. I'm even happier when I end up with 500 words in the hour, which usually happens when I pass the midway point. :)

    I find having goals helpful. It keeps me going. And realistic goals are the best. Otherwise, you become like the high school student who has to write a 2000 word report, and achieves that by abusing filler words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you! Obviously you write faster when you're midway through the book--that's a great feeling, isn't it? Funny point about filler words! Who hasn't been tempted? ha!

      Delete
  2. Great post, Jill. I love concrete ideas:) I have a spreadsheet I use each month to track my words. What day I wrote, what my word count was when I started that day, what it was when I finished and a running total for the month. Even those 300 word days add up. I've been off track since conference getting proposals done and out, but yeah, this week I hope to get the momentum going again! So this post was perfect timing:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're so much alike! I have a spreadsheet in my OneNote folder to track my progress, and I agree--every word adds up!

      Conferences always throw new tasks to focus on besides writing. That's okay. We need to get them done too, so we can move forward. I actually took a 3-week detour after conference. No biggie! It was for the best. :)

      Delete
  3. Good tips, Jill. I'm pushing myself right now to get my book finished (first draft anyway) by the first week in December. There are so many things competing for my time, but I have a goal and I'm going to stick with it as best I can. Thanks for some practical tips on how to do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay!! Go get 'em! I have faith in you! And your sweet puppies can keep your feet warm while you write. :)

      Delete
  4. I have never done the NaNo, but I have been thinking about it. I like how you break down the word count. It's not so "big" when you see it from a different angle. Great tips here, Jill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daily word goals make writing doable! For me, at least!

      Delete
  5. I used to push myself...I'm getting back to that. I probably won't do Nanowrimo but I'm thinking about it. A little. lol
    Good tips!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to push. I know you're a busy mom. I get it! I'm working on it too!

      Delete
  6. Excellent advice. I've always set a date to get done and then just wrote until I met that date. I write in scenes. "Today I'm writing X amount of scenes."

    However, I've tried the word count thing and I like knowing about how many words I need to write each day to get to my end goal. :)

    I'm still deciding about NaNo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Writing a certain number of scenes is a great trick to meet goals! I like that, Jess!

      Delete
  7. Unfortunately I won't be able to do NaNoWriMo this year. :( I need to get this latest manuscript polished and turned in. My trick for everything, not just writing, is to tell myself to do just three things--write three sentences, edit three paragraphs, pick up three toys off the floor, etc. I've learned that getting started is the hardest part, and after doing three, I usually keep going.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, what a great concept! The three list! I'm going to try it!!

      Delete
  8. Yep, I love challenging myself. I don't really do NaNo, because the pressure of having to report my word count and the temptation to compare myself to others is just too much. Haha! But what I DO do is keep track of my specific goals and reward myself when I meet them. My crit partner and others help hold me accountable. If I know I need to hit an unusually high word count, I try to take breaks--do 20 minutes on the elliptical or take a walk in between chunks of writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exercising gives me writing boosts too, Melissa. I've found taking a break to drink a large glass of ice water will perk me up in droopy times. Great tips!

      Delete
  9. I'm not doing NaNo this year, but I just started my new WIP, so I am really trying to get the words. One thing I'm struggling with this time around is editing myself. A lot. I need to just ignore my internal editor, push forward, and save the editing for later when I have a different perspective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. It's ridiculous how critical we can be! When I'm writing beginnings, I second guess myself, but that's dumb. I just have to commit!

      Delete
  10. My CP and I share our progress with one another. That helps keep me on track.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Smart. Having someone (or a group) to check in with makes a huge difference. Just like dieting!!

      Delete
  11. Jill, awesome post! I love your tip about writing in shorter chunks of time! I seriously need to do that--it would be better for my back that's for sure. And the "reward" system...aren't those fun?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cynthia, I'm always up for a "reward"!! The shorter chunks keeps my brain fired. I get molasses-y in the afternoon. :)

      Delete
  12. Good stuff, but I'm wondering if you're a plotter or SOTP writer. The SOTPer in me stresses from all this tracking while the plotter in my knows I should embrace more structure! And now I guess I need to start writing again to even implement this great ideas! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gina, this is a GREAT question. I'm a plotter, but I think any writer can benefit from keeping track of her progress.

      Maybe you edit as you go? This prevents your word count from climbing? Then write down a summary of what you accomplished that day.

      Oct. 22, revised scene 2 in chap. 4, wrote 216 words of chapter 5. (2.25 hours)

      This provides a way to track our efforts and not get all grumpy with ourselves about our progress. :)

      Delete
  13. I'm all about the word count goals! :) I keep a word count tracker on my blog, and I love adding to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can tell you're motivated because your counter never stays in one spot for long! This is another great tool for writers!

      Delete
  14. Great ideas, Jill. I'm toying with the idea of NaNo, but am not fully committed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. November is just a rough month for me to commit to NaNo. We usually have at least one school break, plus I plan ahead for the holidays, and it's a shorter month. No thanks!!

      Delete
  15. Helpful tips, Jill. My biggest challenge is time management. I'm going to try your suggestion of taking short breaks and writing in chunks. When I sit for hours at my computer, I find that I'm spending more time on Facebook and news articles than I am actually writing.

    I like the idea of NaNo, but November is a tough month for me, too. Perhaps I'll try the challenge during the winter after the holidays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brandi, I'm the exact same. Sitting for hours gives me too many temptations and I am less productive. :)

      Delete
  16. Great post, Jill! I've been pushing those word counts this month. When Saturday rolls around, my wc goal is 5K, how do I get that? Mostly tricks you mentioned. I write for an hour, take a break and do something else, write for another hour, take a break...until I hit 5K! During the week, it can be more of a struggle to hit my 2K daily goal. I recently switched my writing time to 5 a.m.! Yes, I'm crazy. BUT--it's working!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see your early risers posts on FB, Ralene--great job!! I'm impressed you're making time to get your words in. Go, go!!

      Delete
  17. I love this advice, Jill!

    I always get inspired by NaNo too. (But I never do it) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, ha! Same here! I'm inspired, but I won't go there!!

      Delete
  18. I hope you get some great word counts because of NaNo. You give great advice for anyone who wants to take up the challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how they all do it, Nancy. November is always busy!!

      Delete
  19. Helpful tips, but I write NF. Can these pointers apply to me?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they can. You still can set word count goals--but your final count would probably be different than mine! If you're writing articles, you could make your goal to write 1/2 an article/day. Or something similar. Play around with it!

      Delete

I love to hear from you!