Daily Word Count, Part Two
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Last Tuesday we started our discussion about writer productivity and word count goals. If you missed it, you can find it here. I received such great input from many of our Books & Such authors, I want to continue their advice today. Here’s what they had to say when I asked them about their daily writing goals:
Kathryn Cushman: I make weekly goals (5000-7000 words). Then, I make a daily goal each morning based on what’s going on in my life that day. Mondays and Thursdays are busy for me, so I aim at a lower word count, Tuesday and Wednesdays are my big writing days so I aim big. Friday’s goal is whatever is left over.
Kathleen Y’Barbo: My process is a little different than the ones I’ve read so far. I learned this many years ago from Tracie Peterson, and it works very well, especially for planning my writing time at the beginning of the project. Working with Tracie in her Barbour days, I learned to harness the power of my “pantser” ways to create a very detailed synopsis from which to write. I may cut back and send Wendy a shorter version in the proposal, but often for a 100k book, I have as many as 20 pages of synopsis that I print out and divide into chapters. This gives me an idea of how many chapters will be in the book, although the number and the content of those chapters often change as the book is being written. Having the synopsis in hard copy also allows me to scribble all over it and to cross off each chapter as it is written. Now comes the goal planning. Using a four day week (Monday through Thursday), my goal is to write one chapter (10-15 double spaced manuscript pages or around 3000 words) each day. Building in at least two weeks for edits, I work backwards from the deadline to schedule the writing of the book then I fill in the weekly goals (chapters 1-4 in week 1, chapters 5-8 in week 2, etc) on my calendar and in Scrivener. I write at the speed of approximately 1000 words per hour, so this is a great schedule for me. If my four chapters are done by Thursday, then Friday is play day, as is Saturday. If not, then I write on those days in order to meet my goal for the week. Because life often intervenes–as does demands for PR, blogs, research, etc–having the flexibility of two extra days each week really helps me stay on track. Also, when I’m on a roll, I love getting ahead of my goal. There’s no better feeling.
Sarah Sundin: I think in terms of chapters rather than word count. I divide the total number of chapters by the number of months to complete the rough draft, then set monthly chapter goals (usually about 8). Each week I set daily goals, giving myself about 2 days per chapter. Since my chapters average 2000 words, this is about 1000 words per day. However, this varies per day. Mondays and Wednesdays I can get lots of writing done, Tuesdays and Thursdays barely any, etc. I find when I set word count goals, it stifles me. I feel like I’m writing a high school essay, desperate to pad my word count. But when my goal is to write a chapter, the story guides me – and I don’t care about the number of words – and it flows! But I’m odd.
Lori Benton: I don’t set a word count goal, but a day when I write 1000 words is a satisfying day. My daily goal is story oriented. I start the day with a goal such as “Write the part where William and Joseph have the conversation about the dream and his brother.” That might take 500 words, or 1000, or more. If that gets finished (which means I’ve gone over it three or four times after the initial writing) and there’s still something left of me and/or my writing time, I might sketch out the next bit, or turn my focus to writing an interview or an article. But it’s never about the number of words, since I know I’ll need to cut whatever I write by about 1/3 anyway. Writing many words each day is not necessarily a good thing, in my case.
Tricia Goyer: So interesting! Most of my novels are between 85,000 – 95,000 words. When I’m in writing mode I do about 2,000 words a day. That’s a mix of writing/editing. The first 10 chapters are hard, so sometimes (because I’m re-editing what I wrote the day prior), I write only about 1000 words a day. But after chapter 10 the story goes much faster. As deadline nears then things really pick up, and I usually have a 5,000 words a day goal. My biggest day was 8,500, but that usually happens when deadline is only days away and then the story just pours out. As you can tell deadlines work well for me! For non-fiction, it’s a slower process, and I write about 1,000 – 2,000 words a day.
So how about you? Have you reexamined daily writing goals over the last week? If I were to ask you the same question– What is your daily writing goal– what would you answer?
More input from writers on daily word count goals. Click to Tweet
Do you set daily word count goals for your writing? Click to Tweet
Five tips for setting daily word count goals. Click to Tweet