Tuesday, July 12, 2011

10 Ways to Reach Your Word Count Goals

10. Write the scene that's in your head - don't worry if it's out of sequence.

9. Write to your strengths - if it's dialogue, write dialogue. If it's description, write description. You can fill in all the blanks later.

8. Don't stop if you need to know the name of something - just type *** or something similar and keep on writing. Trust me on this one. I once stopped writing to look up the name of a mountain range. One hour later, I had traveled to a site about Russian royalty. It made sense at the time.

7. Don't worry about quality. That comes later. Remember, in order to be able to polish, you first have to have something to polish.

6. Writing 'this is crap' many times can really ratchet up that word count.

5. If you can, ignore typos. This is impossible for me, but maybe you can.

4. Let your fingers do the writing. Sometimes just letting the words flow will take you to strange and unexpected places.

3. Remember you don't have to reach the goal in one session. You might work better in small bursts than one long stretch. Not every one can run a marathon.

2. Don't compare your word counts to anyone else's. I tell myself that those writers who can consistently spew out 5,000 words a day have severe emotional issues.

1. Celebrate when you reach your goal. The nature of the celebration is up to you, but I have been known to dance about the house like a deranged camel. It's not pretty.


  1. Elspeth - Such great advice! Especially #6 ;-). I really do find that I work better if I write in smaller dollops of time than I do if I try to do a "marathon write." I also find I write more and work better if I pay attention to my biorhythms and write at times of day that work for me.

  2. Excellent reminders of what needs to happen during draft writing -- get the words down, whatever they are, no matter how messy. Tidying up comes later.

  3. Margot; That is excellent advice! I think each of us write our best at a certain time of day.

    Karen; Good for you!

    kit; That's the essential thing to remember isn't it?

  4. I laughed at no 5.

    No, I can´t ignore typos either. Somehow my fingers inform me that they screwed up, and I can´t go on until I´ve been back. Usually I can´t go on if I cannot remember the English word either; I have to consult a dictionary. But ignore quality etc is no problem in a draft. The problem arises when the quality of a scene is low after FIVE drafts or so ;)

  5. Dorte; I'm glad you laughed! And I completely agree, when you're on the umpteenth revision and the scene is still flat it can get rather discouraging.

  6. Excellent advice on using placeholders rather that spend time coming up with names, adjectives, or anything else. Nothing wrong with writing "research native plants" when your character shows up holding some kind of plant he wants to put in the garden.

    But I still can't write out of order. Tried it. Created massive problems down the line.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  7. Terry; Since you write without an outline (you brave soul) I could see that writing scenes out of order could be troublesome.

  8. Yes! Celebration is key!

    And I love putting *** in and keeping going. :)

  9. Write write write. Sit in chair and write. Love these tips. Thanks!

  10. Brilliant. It's like i know all this stuff already but need to hear it over and over to drown out all the 'I can't do this' internal monologue. Just get the stuff down. Yes, for goodness sake. :-)


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