The best time to write about something is often when it has been a subject of much thought lately. So it is with word count, and goals, for me. Setting goals for myself, reminding myself that it was not just me I was letting down if I missed the mark, and keeping to a schedule has brought my writing game to a new level these last few months. In fact, when I first started making the time to write every day I got way ahead of schedule; soon I saw the value in having a word limit maximum for the day as well as a minimum.
Well, things keep changing…as things do. After a few months of beating my minimum word count of a thousand by as much as three thousand on several occasions, I set that maximum. It was largely an exercise in discipline, to see if I could do it. And I did…kind of.
During this time a bunch of other things came to my attention, and I realized that my swifter writing gave me time to do some of the things that Dawn and podcasts and author interviews had been telling me I needed to do. After my eleven hundred word maximum cut me off from writing about zombies each day, I would jump right over to typing up a blog or newsletter message or long-winded email to a hero or fan or fellow author. Dawn called it cheating, but I pointed out that I had planned on only counting the words in the books I was writing. It wasn’t so much cheating, I reasoned, even if I often spent way longer writing way more words that were still somehow in support of my writing.
Once again, things stopped getting done around the house as I squirreled away short stories and blogs weeks or months ahead of their release date. It was great for the publishing company, but not so great for the household. When I finally got around to cutting all the grass and weeds in our huge backyard, I had a lot of time to think about word count and word limits and balancing my time a little more effectively.
It seemed a great idea, to at least start counting all those blog posts I was writing. Sometimes it got to be too much, and cutting that off at some reasonable point would help get my face out of the company laptop for awhile every day. Scrivener counts the words no matter what I’m writing, so why shouldn’t I? Besides, it’s not like I’m writing a grocery list.
Two thousand words a day…at my current writing speed, that’s a good minimum. After much deliberation, I think that gives me all the time I need writing to get the books and blogs done while giving me time every day to also get something done around the house. It will change, at some point, but that will probably work through the end of the year at least. As for maximum, I don’t like only having a hundred words worth of wiggle room. Too many sentences were literally cut off in the middle when I looked down and saw that I had hit eleven hundred words. Some of those instances, the next sentence was already lined up in my head…I had to stop or break my own rules. Mostly I did the one, but I did the other plenty of times as well. There’s really no need for that.
Five hundred words is plenty of wiggle room. It sets a good maximum as well, plenty of time to notice the goal being met instead of watching the word count like a hawk. A hundred words can fly by pretty rapidly when the flow is a-flowing, if you know what I mean. With five hundred words, I can finish that sentence and write the next one. If there’s something I have to say next, and don’t think I’ll remember the phrasing that I’m hearing when I pick up here tomorrow, I can write most or all of that too. It’s perfect, I think…twenty-five hundred word maximum. Yeah.
For anyone who thinks that sounds daunting, or thinks I’m bragging…please to understand. Momentum is a hard-won thing, and accountability is one of the best ways to keep that momentum going. I started with a minimum of one hand-written page a day. I bumped it up to four. Then I started typing, and the words were being counted for me…so, like an actual author, I started counting words. A thousand is a great minimum, and a fantastic way to watch that book take shape; but with a few other writing outlets, and that precious momentum, writing two thousand to twenty-five hundred words a day is simply appropriate for me right now. Letting folks know on Twitter how well I’m doing with my goals helps keep me accountable. No one has yelled at me yet, but I have been staying pretty well on track.
The other reason I like this is because it gives me more flexibility. I can write solely in my next book, or exclusively in blogs, or split them up as I see fit. The only thing more important than boundaries is freedom, after all.
If I have been cheating all this time, I guess I’ll cheat one last and final time. This blog post will be the last thing counted in my ‘one thousand to eleven hundred words a day’ run. It was a good run, but it’s time to end it. It’s also time to start picking through my shop to get ready for a yard sale. Rather than start this day with my new word count guidelines and goals, we’ll just go ahead and say that this nice little piece of me letting you know what is going on with all this counts as my final thousand word minimum day. Even if it’s kinda cheating.
It’s time to ratchet up that momentum…
Thanks for reading!