Just How Many Words Can You Wordsmith? Follow-up Tips!

Hello SEers and Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone has a great holiday! Last week, Staci Troilo shared some fantastic insights for increasing your word-count. There must have been some sort of kismet between us because I was dealing with the same topic as I try to ramp up my word count. Here are some tips that I found handy from another author and then a Scrivener tip.

The same day as Staci’s post last week, I had already read another post by Rachel Aaron, regarding how she increased her word count from 2,000 to 10,000+ a day. It was an an interesting read which I’ll sum up here but you can read the whole post by clicking this link.


Microsoft Clip-art

Let me offer a bit of background about my more recent predicament. Last July, I wrote the biggest part of the 96,000+ words of The White Arrow in just three weeks. There were days that I easily surpassed 10,000 words which was incredible. So when I completed The White Arrow and shifted to other projects, I found that I was not writing near as much on them as the previous project. This has puzzled me for the last couple of months – until…

More Information

In Rachel Aaron’s I discovered, there are three elements which lead to increased word counts: knowledge, time and enthusiasm. Here’s a quick run-down on each of these elements but refer to the post for more (she even has a book about her experiences). First is knowledge, which is how much you know about what you’re writing. By this, Rachel means how much you know what you are going to write that day. She suggests taking some time to make a list regarding your scenes and chapters for about 5-15 minutes. Even pantsers need to know what they are going to write or frequently find themselves bogged down in the minutia. How much you want to put into your list will vary but something is better than nothing. I’ll share my thoughts further below.

Alarm clock with bell alarms ticking down to midnightSecond, is Time which Rachel uses as a reference for both actual time as well as environment. She was able increase her time and word count by going to a coffee-shop where there was no wifi available. However, she also tracked everywhere she wrote to figure out when and where she was most effective. For her, it was afternoons at the coffee-shop.

Last on the list is enthusiasm. This is simply whether you are excited about the content you are writing. If you are, then you’ll write more. It’s also noted that your enthusiasm is an indicator of whether you readers will feel the same because if you aren’t that will likely show to the reader. How do you gauge your enthusiasm and increase your word count? Simple, when you are making your list, ask yourself whether you are enthused about it? If not, strike what isn’t enticing and make sure you are planning something that intrigues you.

My Take

As I read the post (and Staci’s) I understood why I had written so much so easily back in July while working on The White Arrow. First, I knew largely where I was going but also mapped it out very well. I could just write and write and write. Next, I found that I could write most anytime (though I suspect that I do better in the afternoons and evenings) but I did very well while reclined. I could move to a table and chair after starting because I already had momentum (it also helped keep me awake). Lastly, I was very enthused about completing the book and the series so most everything that I wrote was exciting and I could just push on each day with ease.

Understanding my past success, I could then work to duplicate the same results with my current projects. However, I found that I needed a bit more time on my initial list, having less familiarity with the projects than I did with the concluding book of a series. Also, some of the world-building is still under development for these newer projects.

Next, I tested a few other locations and still found that I liked writing reclined but also in a few other locations. My normal writing table wasn’t cutting it for some reason so I used a couch and the kitchen table with my laptop on a lap-pad to easily move to and from a table. This proved to be both helpful and flexible but I had trouble turning off the internet for a long enough period of time – there are quite a few demands personally so this a bit of a barrier to increased word counts at the moment.

Lastly, I realized that I could easily judge the planned content from my enthusiasm and make adjustments. It led me to understand where I was heading with my intended goals so I thought less about it and felt both encouraged and interested.

Overall, there were some hiccups to the process but I feel that I’m on the right track. I’ve had a few busy days that swallowed up time to write as much as I’d like. However, this did help me map out and write to the end of a phase on one project which covered several thousand words. I knew that I could write them before reading the post, but after reading it, I was able to actually engage with the content more easily. The word count was higher. Also, I was able to move seamlessly into work on another project by writing up an extensive list of what needed to be written (this one is organized a bit differently so it needed more detailed attention). However, I’m doing very well with my word counts though time is still a factor for me.

Scrivener Tip

Now, onto the Scrivener tip: you can track word count easily, just read this post to find out more. The way you can see the list without adding those words to your daily count is by using Notes in the Inspector bar. The problem is that the count for the day rises with some of the words you might write even in a sub-document of the Research folder. So, if you write several lists a day, this can throw off your word count unless you reset it after each stint of writing. Keeping the list in the Notes doesn’t add to the word count so either type them there or cut/paste them from whatever sub-document you use into Notes. Scrivener helps you with word count in conjunction with the process listed above and it’s very handy to use.


Thanks for stopping by to read the tips today. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can, but remember, I’m busy with my word count!

P.H. Solomon

27 thoughts on “Just How Many Words Can You Wordsmith? Follow-up Tips!

  1. Pingback: Six Steps to Plotting a Series | Story Empire

  2. This is excellent, PH! I’ve been having some trouble keeping my word count moving, and you hit on the bulk of my issues: knowing what’s going to happen, and enthusiasm. I do find the more I know about what is going to happen in the story, the more enthusiastic I am about the project. Great ideas to figure out what will work the best for me. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your map idea. For some reason it just resonates better than outlining (which makes me run screaming from the room, lol). If I can get a scene pictured in my mind, I can write like a mean machine. It’s the areas where I don’t know what’s next that bog me down. I’m going to give mapping a try, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are some fluid outlining techniques out there that fit fiction far better than standard outlining but mapping out what you want to write and checking it against the enthusiasm meter truly helps. Fluid is a good concept to keep in mind with fiction. Scrivener helps with outlining too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post on getting the word count up. I always struggle in the middle of the book even when I outline. Finding a good place to write is important. I added Scrivener to my computer, now to use it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Whoa, you were kicking some serious word-count with The White Arrow!
    For me, word count is more problematic with the framing of what I’m writing. I struggle to get the beginning down, and my word count is usually sluggish. Once I have the start of the story, the word count flows more easily.
    I have done some great writing in the library or a coffee shop. Both have wifi but that doesn’t distract me. I find the environment conducive to concentration, whereas at home it’s easy to get sidetracked with just about anything!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use headphones at home to minimize distraction from everything else. If I try to write at the library or a shop, I get distracted by other people moving around.

      I was kicking some serious word count last July. I also wrote an ending to the book so I had an idea where I was going and from that point it really took off.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another useful post on word count.Thanks, PH! Scrivener is so useful. I love the composition mode, where you can switch off notifications from anything else, which allows you to write! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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