Monday, September 18, 2023

Counting the words, an Open Book blog hop post

Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Do you keep track of your word count on a daily basis? What's your record for most and least words? (Not including those days when you don't write anything)  

I am a word count gal, but I change that up a little depending on my needs--trying not to get so hung up on meeting a particular word count that I ignore real progress that consisted of deleting words or revising them, for example. 

More important than the number of words is just the habit of writing every day, for my practice. I know some folks can write on a more variable schedule, but for me, it's every day. 

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After lots of floundering around with systems that didn't work for me, I started fresh with a gamification tool called The Magic Spreadsheet in 2013 (I think). 

It was literally a group-edited spreadsheet with complex formulas that awarded you points based on making your goal (the lowest goal you could set was 250 words a day), and number of days in a row written. There was a vibrant and supportive community surrounding the document and the Facebook group, and it really helped me build a daily writing habit. I'm still in touch with some writing friends I made through that group. 

I'm coming up on nine years of writing every day on September 28 this year, and that daily writing habit has been key to my ability to move forward with a writing life alongside a busy day job and family life. Developing discipline to finish things and see them out into the world was my biggest hurdle in early days, but now I can't imagine breaking that chain for anything less than a complete disaster. 

These days, I track using Jamie Raintree's Writing & Revision tracker. I love it because it lets me set goals in different categories, and track both revision and the writing of new words. In September, I have writing goals for the novel WIP, short stories, blogs, book reviews, social media, and business (by business I mean organizational stuff and emails and the like). 

As to today's question, I don't know offhand what my largest word count ever was, but I can tell you that it happened when was hurrying to prepare a submission when I got one of my first requests for "a full" from a potential publisher. I scrambled to clean up what was then a rather messy manuscript, cursing myself for having submitted without having the full completely ready. 

That day about broke my brain, and made it hard to do any writing work for several days afterward, so I now try to plan ahead better than that and not force myself into a corner where I have to scramble to meet a deadline. It wasn't fun, and I don't really want to do that again. A good writing day for me at this stage is 800 words on a day where I worked the day job and 2,000 words on a day that I didn't. 

My lowest word count was 250 words, because I never go to bed without having written at least that much. I'm just glad that writing 250 words isn't the strain it was back in 2013. Even on a bad day, I can do that in pretty short order now, another benefit of practice. 

How about you? Do you track your creative work in numbers? In time? Or not at all? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

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  1. I've stopped allowing guilt to get to me if I don't write every day. Still, I try!

  2. Once you get into the habit of writing every day, it gets easier.

  3. Well done for writing every day. I could never do this, as I only write when I want to.