Word Count Inertia

July 20, 2011

A while ago—I'm ashamed to admit how long—someone told me I needed to consider getting my daily word count up. I was in a strange phase of my project, where I was trying to boost word count but also editing the previously written bits, so I didn't have too many days that were pure "get words on the page" days.

I've always achieved success by setting goals, and mini-goals with goals. Examples include:

  • finish writing/cleaning up this chapter then take a break
  • no chocolate until the target word count is hit
  • no new purchase of shiny thing until the entire edit is done

But overall, my average word count per day hovered between 500 and 1200 words. An 1800 word day was almost unheard of.

I recently started a new mid-length piece, and decided to play with my word count targets a bit. I chose 1000 word chunks of writing, and the rule is, no Internet break until I hit 1000 words. That doesn't mean no breaks, like for a glass of water or stretch or something, but I do try to minimize those as well.

Since I instituted this rule I've had three 2000-word days, and one thousand word day. I've written a little over 7000 words in 4 days and am nearly halfway through the first draft of a roughly 15000 word planned novella.

What flabbergasts me about the whole thing is how easy it was. Sure, at some point I expect to hit a roadblock in the story that might slow me down. Or not. Who knows? What I do take away from this exercise is that I've been aiming too low. I used to think in 250-500 word chunks of output. Simply changing my thinking to 1000 word chunks seems to have greatly enhanced my productivity.

Are you aiming too low with your targets? I recommend this exercise: whatever your daily target is, try doubling it for a week or two, and see what happens. You never know: you just might learn something surprising about yourself. And overcome an artificial word count inertia.

Latest Books

Little Blue Marble 2020
1 5

Join My Newsletter


  • Latest Books



    [line] [line]

  • Newsletter Sign-up

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Comments

  • Topics

  • Archives

    Copyright Katrina Archer
    linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram