Keeping up the word count

I tweeted this morning that I’d written 12,000 words this month. That’s 500 a day, on average. Some days I did more, some days I did none, but over the average it’s 500 words.

spreadThe one thing that keeps me writing (almost) every day is my spread sheet.

Each day I add the words I’ve written, and what project I wrote on. Each day I add little pink highlights if that number is zero. I hate those zeros. I also keep blog and writing separate, but I do track both. And both show up on my graph at the end of the month (writing in blue, blog in red.)

The trouble with a “zero” day isn’t that I got a zero, it’s that the next day I don’t write as much. And if I have two “zero’s” in a row I have to struggle all that much more to get some words out.

I actually started this about February. That’s when I realized I was struggling, and I needed more accountability to myself. Something I had in spades during NaNoWriMo, but lacked afterward. I no longer had that nifty little graph showing my progress, or the bar creeping forward saying weather or not I “won”. So, I decided to make my own graph.

It took a few tries to figure out exactly what I should have on my graph. As you can see there is an “edited” column that rarely gets anything put into it. I’ve edited quite a bit this month because I am rewriting sections of “Rage War” in between writing “Forgotten Ones” and finishing up a short story. But I never really think about the edited pages, I just want to track what I’ve written.

I’ve also forgotten to add my word counts for a couple of days. Every time that happens I am extremely disappointed n myself. This has become an incredibly important part of my writing. It’s tracking my growth and accomplishments as I move forward.

Soon after figuring out my own graph I discovered “The Magic Spreadsheet” from Mur Lafferty. I really like her version, and how it gives you points for each day you reach your goal, but I’ll stick with mine for now. However, maybe some of you would like to try it out.

Whatever method you use, the best advice I can offer is just to try new things. Find out what works for you. I know authors who keep a writing journal in paper, and jot down a note every day. I know others who blast it out on twitter, o reddit. Still others keep writing journals on a blog. But I do know that it won’t hurt for you to try to keep track and figure out what you are really doing.

I would love to add time of day to this… but my scheduled doesn’t allow that right now. It’s too chaotic. Chalk that up to a dream for the future.


4 thoughts on “Keeping up the word count

  1. 500 Words is nothing to sneeze at. You’re still outpacing George R. R. Martin. They key is definitely consistency. A little trick is to try and keep the chain of consecutive writing days going as long as you can. That way, you’ve got an excuse to start and the end result doesn’t matter as much. The habit you’re building is the most important thing. Practice will eventually turn off your internal editor, and let you hit those stratospheric word counts we all hear about.

    • 500 would ne okay if i was satisfied with that. And Martin is. But I out out 1-2k sometimes without blinking, so I know I could get the high word counts all the time if I just wrote every day.

      Like you said, the trick is consistency, but finding what works for you is also important. Martin likes his short word counts. He’s happy with that. And he produces good stuff. Good for him. It’s not good enough for me.

  2. I downloaded The Magic Spreadsheet. I keep track of hours on individual book spreadsheets, to see how much time goes into each project, but I jump between projects sometimes, so I’ve never kept one master spreadsheet. This spreadsheet looks like it might work really well for me. I need to write daily, otherwise the flow dries up and the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to get the characters and story to flow again. If I miss a couple of days, then I start dreading picking the book back up, and I can go for weeks without writing.

    • Exactly why I started my spreadsheet. It’s like Johnny said in one of the podcasts… it’s like a train you are trying to get moving, and when you stop it takes a lot more energy to get it moving again.

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