5 Keys to Increasing Your Word Count

Posted May 17 2015, 6:34 pm in ,

As an Indie author, or really as any professional author today, chances are that deadlines loom large in your mind. You need to get Book A to your epowerful-womanditor, while editing Book B, promoting Book C, and dreaming up Book D.

It seems impossible to cut corners anywhere, but one thing is for certain: the time you spend staring at your blank screen, willing the words to come, has got to go. These five techniques can help the words flow more speedily!

1. Sprint your way to success

The writing sprint is a tried-and-true technique for fast writers, and it’s simple too: Set a period of time (usually 20-30 minutes), start the clock, then write as fast as you can until the timer goes off. Just focus on getting words on the page. As an added bonus, sprinting is one technique that can easily become a social event. By joining a sprint room like ours, you can join with like-minded writers, set a timed period for your writing and report your results to your fellow sprinters.

2. Stop judging yourself (within reason)

If your goal is production not perfection, you need to turn your internal editor to QUIET. Importantly, however, you should not set that editor to OFF. Writing a lovely scene about your heroine relaxing in a spa may make for speedy wordcount, but it won’t move your story forward. How do you keep your writing on track? The easiest way is to…

3. Embrace at least a mini-plotting process

While “pantsing” is a completely viable writing method for many hugely successful writers, it isn’t ideal for the fast writer because you’re moving so fast. One wrong turn on the yellow brick road, and your high-speed writing session will suddenly find you stranded in a forest of flying monkeys. To make each writing session the most productive, have a clear idea of exactly what you’re going to write. I tend to write in 1000 word bursts, and that’s a short enough section to map out the basics of “what happens next.” Long story fast, the more you plot up front, the faster you can write when you get in the chair.

4. Track your progress

Whenever I fear that I will NEVER GET IT ALL DONE, I turn to one of my secret weapons: the spreadsheet. Into this unassuming excel grid I plug in calendar dates all the way up to my goal date, and then I start manipulating numbers. How many words a day do I need to write EVERY DAY to get my draft done by my goal date? What if I skip weekends? What if I also skip next Friday since I’ll be at a conference? Once I have my expected daily word count, I add another row of “Actual” words. Every day, I fill up the “Actual” cells beneath the “Planned” cells, and my visual reminder of my progress keeps me on track through those first critical days. I generally find I don’t need my spreadsheet after about the 1/3 mark on a given book, but it’s a tool that’s always there when I need it !

5. Author, know thyself

When do you write best? For some authors, it’s the middle of the night. For others (like me!) it’s early morning. Whatever your “Go” Time is, set aside that time for mass production. I find if I miss my best time to write, getting ANY serious wordcount done is like pulling teeth. But if I start the day running and hit the manuscript hard and fast, my production time is over before I know it **and** I have the added benefit of being SUPER. OBNOXIOUSLY. VIRTUOUS.

I’ve used the above techniques to generate consistent wordcount of 5,000 words a day, 5 days a week when I’m in serious drafting mode. The most I’ve ever written in one day is 12,000 words (I do not recommend this, but it can be done!). But even at my 5×5 approach, I can finish a rough draft in 3 weeks with comparatively little pain. It’s all in how you approach it!

What about you? What are your techniques for getting words on the page?

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