Tracking The Words

Tracking The Words

This came up recently on the Facebook page and the timing was pretty good as I’d been thinking of writing about this topic anyways.

Up until recently I didn’t track my daily word counts.  Didn’t really see the need.  I knew I needed to write everyday to get the kind of production I needed to hit the publishing schedule I wanted.  What I want to do is pretty expansive. Lots of series, lots of releases.

And to do that I needed to up my production levels.

I knew that but it still wasn’t coming.  I’d always say “let the words just come” and that is true but to meet my goals, I needed consistency.

So I went through everything I had written since publishing my first book The Skeleton Stone (May 2016) and tallied it up. Lots of writing, not that high a word total.

No wonder my production was so slow.

I saw people churning out books after books after books and I was struggling to keep up with an every-other-month novella series.  Something had to change.

I’m not a fast writer. I know that.  I’ll never have the production of a full novel every month. And that’s okay.  But I did need to consistently produce.

Working up a spreadsheet I figured out a daily word count minimum that I could hopefully sustain.  Most nights, I only get about an hour to actually write so had to factor that in.

My goal is 1,500 words a day (not an hour). Any project, or any number of projects, but I needed that minimum.  30 day month, that’s 45,000 words.  I figured if I hit 40,000 for the month, wanting to do more obviously, but I’d be satisfied.  At 40k a month, that’s 480,000 for the year.  Still not that high compared to others (there are people that do 1 mil halfway through the year) but at 40k minimum for a novel (according to Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers of America) that would translate to twelve short novels.  One a month.

(for the record SFWA has word counts as: Short Story – up to 7,499; Novellette – 7,500 to 17,499; Novella – 17,500 to 39,999; Novel – 40,000 and up)

That’s a lot of work produced in a year.  I shoot for 30k words for a Novella and 60k+ for a novel.

Now knowing what I needed to produce, I had to start doing that.  Setting the goal, having a tangible record via the spreadsheet, forces me to write every night.  I switch projects when hit a wall on one, start new things.  But I’m writing around 1,500 words a day.

I play “games” with myself.  Some nights end up writing less if something else is going on (kids not sleeping for example) so I make it up another night and can see I planned in for non-production days (the 45,000 a month vs 40,000).  Since I started tracking on 10/18/18, I have generated 33,982 words.

Not bad for only 15 days or so.  Half a month and I’m already pretty close to my ultimate goal.

That’s all the evidence I needed that tracking your word counts works.  If you aren’t, I would suggest that you do so.

It seems a minor thing, tracking word count every day, but having that goal that need to hit does wonders for the motivation.

I’m thankful I started going it.

Now just need to make sure I can maintain that pace.

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