Ciao, SEers. Happy Wednesday!
I’m in a great mood as I write this. Although I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I’ve been putting up some impressive word counts this month. True, I was highly motivated (I wanted to—needed to—finish my WIP to move onto other things), but my pace even surprised me. There were two days where I wrote over 9,000 words. I had 10,000 in my sights, but one day I had to stop for an appointment and the other day? Well, I finished the draft, so there was nothing more to write.
I bring this up because I thought you might be interested in increasing your own daily word count. I went from 100 hard-fought words a day to almost 10,000. I’m no math whiz, but even I know that’s a heck of an improvement. Could I have written more than 100 words a day before? Of course. Can I sustain that elevated pace now? Probably not indefinitely, although I know I’ll be writing more than 100 words daily.
How can we increase our daily totals?
Five Tips to Increasing Daily Word Count
- Have a Routine
Write in the same place, at the same time, every day. Try to keep your tools organized and unchanging. (Red pens in cup to your right. Coffee cup to your left. Post-It Notes in center drawer. You get the idea.) The more structured your routine, the less likely you are to veer from it.
- Use Deliberate Ambiance
If you like music when you write, call up your tailored playlist. If you like the sound of thunderstorms and crackling fires (even in summertime), or the chatter and silverware-clinking of a coffeehouse (but you can’t get to one), then open your favorite ambient noise mix. (I’m a big fan of Ambient Mixer, and this is not an affiliate link. The site is free.) Prefer silence? Close your door and get noise-canceling headphones. Setting the right mood will go a long way in increasing your speed.
- Have a Plan
Yes, outliners have the advantage here. But I’m talking about more than the plotter-versus-pantser debate. If at the end of your writing day you start thinking about the following day’s work, you will be preparing yourself for your next writing session. Even as you do other chores or sleep, your subconscious can be priming you for your next pages.
- Sprint with Partners
Nothing like a little competition to get those fingers flying. Gather a group of writer-friends (online friends work just as well as local ones), set a start time and a time limit, and race. Eliminate all distractions (Internet, cell phones, whatever steals your attention from work) and write. Don’t re-read. Don’t edit. Just write. At the end of the time limit, everyone reports their totals. Best part? Every sprinter wins because everyone increased their word count. (But be honest, you want to be the writer with the most words, don’t you?)
- Keep a Record of Your Results
The best way to know if you’re improving is to keep track. You can write that total every day in a notes application. You can create an elaborate spreadsheet with a lot of details. Whichever you prefer. But a record will help you start to notice trends. You write more on Tuesday. You write less after work. Days that you exercise result in better totals. Once you see your trends, you can exploit them.
Curious how your routine matches that of famous authors? Let’s compare.
- Rises and has a cup of tea.
- Has his vitamin, plays his music, makes sure his papers are in order.
- Starts work between 8:00 and 8:30.
- Writes for 3-4 hours; averages 6 pages a day.
- Works first thing in the morning, as close to first-light as possible to avoid distractions.
- Stops when he still has his groove, so there’s something to look forward to for the next writing session.
- Manages 500 words a day.
- Up at 5:30. Coffee with husband at 6:00.
- He leaves at 6:30. She goes to the hotel room she rents by 7:00.
- Rents only a basic room, not a suite.
- Keeps dictionary, Bible, playing cards, and a bottle of sherry.
- Usually writes from 7:00 to 2:00.
- On a bad day, quits by 12:30.
- On a good day, may work past 2:00.
- At home, read over day’s work. Then starts dinner.
- By the time her husband gets home, she’s put her work behind her.
- Up at 5:30, works until 8:00.
- Eats breakfast, works until 11:00.
- Walks to town, runs errands, takes a half-hour swim in private.
- Eats lunch at 12:00 at home.
- School to teach or plan.
- Home at 5:30. Drinks a lot of Scotch then has dinner.
- Reads and/or listens to jazz.
- Does a lot of situps and pullups throughout the day.
So, how does your day compare? One thing they all have in common? Routine. (Refer back to point one in my five-step plan.)
I’ll leave you with one more comparison. Famous authors’ daily word counts. Where are you in the range?
- Ernest Hemingway | 500
- Margaret Meade | 1,000
- Mark Twain | 1,400
- Lee Child | 1,800
- Nicholas Sparks | 2,000
- Stephen King | 2,000
- Norman Mailer | 3,000
- Anne Rice | 3,000
- Michael Crichton | 10,000
Whoa! There’s an outlier. I’ve come close to Crichton a couple of times, but that’s nowhere near my average. Not yet, anyway. A girl can dream…
A girl can work hard for it, too.
So, what about you? What’s your daily word average? Do you think you can improve it? Have any tips? Let’s talk about it.