Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Words, Words and More Words

I feel as if I've discovered The Secret.

Many of my writer friends regularly write 2,000 words a day. Some as many as 8,000 words. I know of one man who can belt out 10,000, and one particularly prolific woman who I've heard can slam out 20,000 when she gets a full head of steam.

These are multi-published authors, not someone racing down one rabbit hole after another. These are people who know words, which ones work and which ones don't. (They probably never, ever use "was" in a sentence.)

For the longest time I decided the difference between their output and mine belonged solely to the concept of deadlines. Commitments. A responsibility to produce. They had real deadlines. Mine were only pretend.

But last week I tried something. And it worked. I hit my word count for the day. A fluke?

So, I tried it again the next day. Bingo.

On the third day I really gave it a test, and upped the word count I wanted by the end of the day. Ta-dah!

Do you want to know what I did?

Before I tell you, you need to understand I am not writing (yet) 20,000 or 8,000 or even 2,000 words a day, every day. But I have been successful at hitting between 800 and 1,000, which for me is like opening a whole new world of wonders.

I did not get my rough draft completed by the end of October, but heck . . . I didn't know this secret until a few days ago. Now that I'm pumping, it should come sooner rather than later.

Are you ready? It's ridiculously simple. On my To Do List, I write down how many words I want my manuscript to contain by the end of the day. Once I hit that number, I can play. I can veg with my husband in front of the television, or read, or paint my toenails, or go for a long walk. I can "close up shop."

I'm not naive enough to believe this will work every day, but I can tell you, I have a lot better chance at upping my word count doing this than just wishing it so.

So now I'm off to get those words in. 

Do you have something that's been difficult for you to accomplish with your writing? Have you figured out the secret that works for you?

CR: The Charlestown Connection by Tom MacDonald. I'm pretty sure this is his debut novel, and dang . . . it's pretty good.

It's all better with friends.


  1. Good for you!
    Yes, I do believe it helps to set a goal. Right now I'm editing my manuscripts, but when I get back to writing, I'll have to be disciplined enough to set a word count goal and follow it each day.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. When I finish this first draft, and head to my finished manuscript to edit (and write a better ending), I'll have a daily goal there as well. I'm thinking fifty pages.

  3. Editing 50 pages a day, Peg? Now I want to read about THAT! Editing has turned into a bigger job for me than the actual writing.

    Thanks for sharing. You're always so good about letting us know your writing secrets! :)

  4. Ahh, Jess. I feel a new post coming up . . .