writing

Making that Minimum Word Count

Some days writing is difficult. I’m distracted. Or have fallen out of the story. I’m tired. I’m worried. Work has eaten my brain. On days like that, it is so incredibly easy not to write, to promise that instead I will finish an extra page tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. But not writing can spiral. And one day I might wake up and discover that it has been a week, or two, or a month since I have written anything at all. There is only one way that I have found to make sure I don’t fall into that terrible trap.

A Minimum Word Count.

One of the things that goes on my to do list every day is to write a minimum of 250 words for my novel. Writing 1000 words is my ‘happy’ goal. Writing over that number makes me ecstatic. But on some days, writing 1000 words just isn’t going to happen. On some days, neither is writing 500. But I can always manage to put 250 words onto a page. What is that, 15-20 minutes of writing? Nothing. Easy. That’s half of my lunch break or the time it takes for my partner to get ready for bed.

Occasionally those 250 words are crap. Occasionally I reread those 250 words, and I am surprised by how well they fit with the spirit of whatever I’m writing. Either way those words are a necessary part of moving forward with my project.

At 250 words per day, I would complete a 90,000 word draft every 360 days. A year feels like an interminably long time to write a first draft, and it would be hard to focus on one thing that long. Even so, a draft a year is a victory.

Now if only I can figure out a better way to track my editing progress, I’ll be golden. That can’t be divided into word counts so easily.

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6 thoughts on “Making that Minimum Word Count

  1. I had a similar goal at one point, but found it to be unattainable. Mine was a thousand. Now my goal is to just write everyday, which of course, doesn’t always happen but it does on most days. There are just times when no matter what goal you set, it just won’ t happen.

    Thanks,
    Tim

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I maintain a Word document I call my Writing Quota, with weekly tables. I have 4 columns and 10 rows. The top row is headers: the date, # words, # of hours, and subject/type of writing task/work.
    The next 7 are the days of the week (below the date), and then the last 2 rows are general notes for that week.
    I try to estimate how many hours I feel I can invest in writing on a given day based on my regular schedule. Each day gets a projected range, like .5-1.5 on some work days, 1-2 on others, and the weekends are 1.5-3.
    Each row gets highlighted in red if I fail to meet the minimum, green if I do, and blue if I meet or exceed the stretch goal.
    Every so often I check how many weeks have been red, green, and blue, and how the average is going. Tracking and reviewing your progress can help you confirm whether you’re having a slow day, or whether it’s part of a larger trend that needs to change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a wonderful way to manage your progress. It also sounds like an interesting study; I know there are days that I write like a sloth, and seeing the word counts in those instances would allow me to adjust my future writing schedule a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

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