Word Counts

May 15, 2014 by 1 Comment

Word Counts

One of the best known tips for any writer, whether starting out or starting on the 15th novel, is to write every day. However, there is an obvious response to this piece of advice, how long should we write for? For most people this question is answered using word counts – something which is very easy these days when word processors can do it for you at a click of a button.

Today we will look at the topic of word counts, how you can improve the number of words you write a day and what other methods of measuring you could use. Let’s start with how to improve your daily word count.

How To Up Your Daily Word Count

Over on the Scottish Book Trust‘s Five Things Blog, children’s author Barry Hutchison suggests the following five tips on how to improve your daily word count:

  1. Silence Your Inner Critic
  2. Know What You’re Writing
  3. Stop Mucking About on Facebook
  4. Change Your Scene
  5. Set a Realistic and Achievable Target. Then Quadruple It.

Head over to the Scottish Book Trust Website to read the detail behind each of Barry’s Five Things: How To Up Your Daily Word Count.

Other Methods of Tracking Daily Process

Writer Cath Staincliffe, creator of Scott and Bailey, does do word counts. She explains, in her article I Don’t Do Word Counts for the website Women Writers, Women(‘s) Books, that

Any confidence or belief in what you’re making is a fragile, easily fractured thing and ‘judging’ my work by the quantity I was producing would have been another way to chip away at the dream

Cath sees word counts as an example of the above. She finds that deadlines such as attending a writer’s group or other deadlines a far more useful measure. Ultra noir detective author Eric Coyote also ignores word counts

because so much of my writing is re-writing. I clock time: 2-6 hours a day. Usually I work a couple of hours in the middle of the day, then a blast at night until 2 or 3am.

Use the Method Best For You

Whether you measure your daily writing progress in words, pages or time doesn’t really matter as long as it works for you. Plus Barry Hutchison could be used for someone who measures their daily progress in time as much as words.

However, the length of your novel does matter when you start submitting to agents. Helpfully Chuck Sambuchino has produce a list of Word Counts For Novels and Children’s Books for Writer’s Digest. The list is too long to include here so you’ll have to click on the link above and check it out for yourselves – remember though it is an American site so the uses American terms.

In the comments below post your favourite way of tracking your writing on a daily basis

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