How do we get our word counts from measly 1k and 2k a day to numbers like 4k and above?
Now I had to do a lot of testing and experimentation for this post. I started with about 2000 words and brought my word count up 500 extra words daily for a while to see where exactly I fall. The max limit I hit seems to be 10500 words, but only if I followed a strict routine and only if I dedicated my entire day to it.
4k-5k I find is the comfortable zone where I can get enough done to feel productive, but also not feel like I murdered my brain. If you’ve been wanting to get more writing done, but don’t know how to go about it, stick around for a bit.
But there are some things that you just really don’t want to do like…
1. Not Understanding How You Work And What Traps You’ll Fall Into
Believe me, the more self-knowledge you have about yourself, the more efficient you can be.
For example, I know that I hate having my attention split between my computer and someone’s voice, so I fix this by writing with earphones or moving to another room whenever I can.
For a lot of people, shiny distractions like tv and social media are what’s costing them thousands of words. If you know that you can’t handle certain things in your environment or that you get distracted by certain things, don’t ignore this. Eliminate or reduce the distraction in whatever way that you can, if possible.
2. Failing To Outline
This mostly applies to those of us in the fiction writing business. And if you’re a pantser, I know what you’re thinking…
“I don’t want to outline!”
I won’t say that you have to outline because all roads are valid in my book. I’m a pantser too and I hate outlining about as much as any other pantser. But unless you are extremely good at keeping things in your head and very good at plotting as you go along, you’ll have a really bad time once you cross into 3k+ territory.
Often, you’ll keep stopping and starting your flow because there’s stuff that you don’t know. For me, the 10k days were only possible because I knew everything I had to do and there was no wiggle room to sit there and wonder about it.
The other worry for us pantsers is that it takes the fun out of discovering things as we write. Individual circumstances aside, this fear can be worked around easily because your outline doesn’t have to be anything formal or super complicated.
I do my scene scans where I go over what happened in my last writing and plan what will happen in the current session, as well as note characters motives and sensory details, but really an outline could just be barebones phrases if you wanted. All it has to do is tell you what you think you’ll cover while writing. This way you don’t lose all of your enthusiasm and there’s enough wiggle room for you discover things along the way.
[Related: Need help editing your book? We can help.]
3. Starting With Too Much
Writing 10k sounds amazeballs, doesn’t it?
Actually writing 10k in a day does not feel amazeballs. And pulling a badass 10k out of nowhere is unrealistic.
Think about it like this, when you go to the gym, you don’t grab the heaviest weights you see. You also shouldn’t grab the weights that don’t challenge your muscles. You grab the weights that are appropriate for your strength and then you build up to lift more.
Like I said before, I started at around 2k and built up to the 10k by adding 500 words at a time, but I went back down to what was the most comfortable for me.
Starting small doesn’t sound glamorous I know, but high word counts are more about endurance and not about really about how fast you type.
4. Not Keeping Track Of How Much You Get Done
Ignorance is not bliss if you want to get writing done.
If you write down your writing times, your writing locations, and how much you write, you realize just how much time gets eaten in distractions and small side tasks that we usually don’t think about.
For example, I realized that I’d start strong with 1000 words or so in a short amount of time, but then I’d take breaks that go on for hours which hurt my goals and made me work longer than I had to!
There’s so many more tips that I’d like to give, but in my opinion, the best resource I’ve found on the subject was Rachel Aaron’s 2000-10000. If I think of more tips, I may do a part 2, but until then…
Get back in that water!
Destine Williams is the author of Vicissitude: Yang Side (Lost Earth), musician of its official soundtrack, and the founder of The Zen Zone where she gives tips and tricks to help out fellow writers. If you are interested in more posts like this, check out more here. Alternately titled Meditative Monday: How To Not Write 4K+ Words a Day.