Keeping a daily wordcount

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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Keeping a daily wordcount is very hard. I tried to keep to one last year, but never managed to properly keep to it.

However, I think a key reason it slowed is that I insisted on trying to write a strong draft. I did so much rewriting with the last book that I've tried to ensure there's less this time around.

The problem is - as I've posted here plenty of times - is that it's important to get that first rough draft regardless, because that will help highlight the overall story.

Without knowing it, it doesn't matter how strong that working draft might appear - if you have to come back and rewrite or delete it, then it's gone anyway.

So I've ditched the "writing well" mentality to simply "writing".

And I don't know if it's a case of something clicking, or a few things coming together, but I've become superproductive.

For the moment at least. :D

I'm not keeping a wordcount, though, as much as just pushing to do as much as I can.

Maybe inspiration comes in cycles. But maybe that's all the more reason why I can't work to a daily wordcount.

Is anyone here able to keep to one consistently?
 
I need to take a page from your book (copyright issues aside :whistle:). I obsess over drafts so much that it halts the whole process. I keep forgetting that the beginning is not the time to be a perfectionist. Beginnings are about ugly, coarse, functional foundations (and some yucky piping). The pretty Greek columns and Gothic archways go at the end. So if that approach is correct for building, why is it so hard to do it in writing? The creation process is pretty similar after all.
 
Is anyone here able to keep to one consistently?
I generally keep a record of my daily count, but I don't try to hit a target. I find it interesting to look back at the surges and lulls, highlighting bits that were going well, or times when I was struggling.
 
I managed it for Nanowrimo with the threat of social humiliation hanging over me but for the rest of the year what you describe is familiar.

This reminds me of Chuck Wendig's advice to do just 300 words per day Monday to Friday and have a book at the end of a year without breaking a sweat. It seems strangely harder to do than the random splurges method.
 
I only write monday to friday, the weekend is solely for the family. What I try to do is make sure that for those five days a week, I am productive. Wether that is writing a thousand words, three hundred words, or doing loads to websites or some other necessary thing, I am ok with it. Sometimes it is just having a discussion with my co-writer about the current wip, but as long as it is productive and constructive, then fine.
 
I started keeping a daily word count late last year. Partly because my output had dropped, and partly because my writing buddy was struggling to reach his targets so we came up with a combined one (his was weekly, mine daily) and sent it back and forth (he then got the carrot or the stick depending on whether he met his target each week or not:D).

I'll be keeping up with my own, but at the moment it isn't consistent - I haven't written anything since January:( but will be picking up the word counter again when I do.

For me personally I found it useful during those times when I was struggling and my word count dropped to have a target. I think the trick is though to not beat yourself up too much if you don't make it.
 
I'm a perfectionist. Completely obssesive about the first draft. The tone, turn of phrase and imagery has to correct before I move on. The problem with that is, no first draft is perfect, no matter how good it may be it will require rewriting.

I try to hit 400 words a day. No idea if I do though as I'm always editing on the go.
 
The best (in terms of first draft, sticking to a plan) book I wrote this way was Journey to Altmortis. Like you, I threw out the idea of trying to nail it and looked on the first draft more as the scaffolding that would be used to construct the story properly.

Worked very well. Just blasted through it, and then redrafted for continuity, quality of language etc.

As for word counts, whenever I'm writing a first draft I try to hit 2-3,000 words a day. I know others can do more (occasionally, I do, but 5,000's as high as it's gone). Keep that up for a month, and the first draft is more or less done.
 
I wonder if, as creatures, we measure ourselves more reliably in blocks of weeks than days.

I've found myself writing to seasons. So, Winter was one period, now Spring is 1347. It helps that these periods are also reflected in the narrative.

If I set a target, though, I suspect I'd do per-week, rather than per-day.

pH
 
So I've ditched the "writing well" mentality to simply "writing".

I think that's a very good idea, especially when you're writing a long book. I'm very much of the view that waiting to feel inspired isn't the most productive way to write a big novel. That's not to suggest that the prose doesn't have to be good, but you do have to keep going, especially since you can only do a tiny amount of the book in each sitting.

Is anyone here able to keep to one consistently?

Sort of. I feel guilty if I don't write at least 500 words per day, if I'm not editing anything. By the standards of people who write full-time, that's not much, but it's something! I generally manage to do it.
 
Worked very well. Just blasted through it, and then redrafted for continuity, quality of language et

That's what I've just done. My first 30k words are pretty polished. I've posted some of it here in the cribs section and it's all to roughly the same stage. Probably not perfect, but I'm tolerably happy and the cries are honing, not fundamental rewrite issues. The rest of it varies between similar quality, Ok and one or two places where I write "describe more here" or "name this person/place" or run conversations in very modern language with a tag to tidy up on the redraft. I flipped to "get a draft nailed" mode because I wasn't sure if the end of my story was actually going to come together in a way that made sense. So it was important this time to get to the end, then rework the middle to make that end point flow.
 
I am a pantser who is trying out planning currently. I am now working on an outline and I wrote over 1k words of outline yesterday. That seems excessive, but I don't know what to expect. I guess my outline has a great deal of detail.

Anyhoo, I would be curious to know who produces more material in a given time period, planners or pantsers? As a pantser, I would regularly write 300 to 2,000 words per day depending on what I have going on in my real life. Do planners work slower? Is their first draft better as a result?

Will my output change if I make this shift? Will I like it better, will my product be better, or will I go back to pantsing?

Commence experiment on self now.
 
@Cory Swanson i believe I'm on the extreme end of things, planning-wise, but just to give you a little insight into my world. For a 100k novel for example,my plans can run up to 30k or more even. That includes chapter by chapter, pieces of description I want for need, snippets of dialogue etc.

And when writing from this plan, focussed, with nothing else to busy me all day I can write 10k at top speed (and writing exciting parts help that).

To OP, obviously at that pace my drafts are rough, riddled with typos, errors, and plenty of the 'insert later' things that Martin mentioned a few posts up. But I get the bones of the story down, can see which parts work and what I needed. Potentially In a couple of weeks I can see exactly what needs to be done for the second draft. And I find that much better (and easier) than line by line edits as I go, and crucially for me I feel like I'm getting somewhere,ticking parts off the ever-shortening list.
 
At the moment I think I must average somewhere around 5k a year. Enough to count on a thousand hands. Not counting posts on forums.
 
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I have never seen the point of a word count, as it seems counter productive to place the emphasis on quantity over quality when it comes to writing.
 
I have never seen the point of a word count, as it seems counter productive to place the emphasis on quantity over quality when it comes to writing.

I agree, but I also feel that the more (meaningful) words I write, the more I am honing my skills -- although many of them are now getting the chop as I edit. I don't set out to write, say, 5k for the kudos of being prolific, but because the story is buzzing in my head and has to be typed furiously so my fingers can keep up with the ideas (pantster :) ). There's a lot of extra description and people doing stuff that doesn't really advance the story, so that gets streamlined later, but every day I can see my prose getting stronger.

Maybe one day I'll reach a place where every sentence I type in a first draft is just perfect: neither too much nor too little but exactly what needs to be said. *snorts* :rolleyes:
 
I have never seen the point of a word count, as it seems counter productive to place the emphasis on quantity over quality when it comes to writing.

I used to wholeheartedly believe this as well. Then I became discouraged at different points during my writing--writer's block, a slump, lack of motivation, call it what you will. I think wordcounts are very helpful to get you through the tough patches where inspiration is less of a flood and more of a trickle. I do think wordcounts are very situational because of this. When you're inspired, wordcounts are less useful (and sometimes outright counter-productive), but when the muse escapes you and you see the dark clouds on the horizon, wordcounts are a lifeline--sometimes the only thing that connects you to your writing and at particular times can be the ONLY motivation to keep writing--while you endure the creative drought.

A wordcount definitely does have its uses, but I find it's more motivational than anything else. And in writing, motivation can be 75% of the battle.
 
I used to wholeheartedly believe this as well. Then I became discouraged at different points during my writing--writer's block, a slump, lack of motivation, call it what you will. I think wordcounts are very helpful to get you through the tough patches where inspiration is less of a flood and more of a trickle. I do think wordcounts are very situational because of this. When you're inspired, wordcounts are less useful (and sometimes outright counter-productive), but when the muse escapes you and you see the dark clouds on the horizon, wordcounts are a lifeline--sometimes the only thing that connects you to your writing and at particular times can be the ONLY motivation to keep writing--while you endure the creative drought.

A wordcount definitely does have its uses, but I find it's more motivational than anything else. And in writing, motivation can be 75% of the battle.

Good points, Ihe.

When I hit these roadblocks, I simply stop writing and switch to thinking about writing until the muse returns. It's all about finding the method that suits.
 

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