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.