Last year, 2016 was my year of “let go”. I rearranged a lot of things including letting go of two volunteer service opportunities in order to do one single thing: INCREASE MY WORD COUNT. Yes, the goal was to do this in order to release my books closer together but I could only do that if I wrote more and wrote faster and LET GO of some obligations in order to do that. Since October, I’ve been writing, writing and more writing and I’ve tried to uncover every possible way there was that’s been beneficial to me and is actually working to move me in the right direction.
First up, at the top of my manuscript, I would put my word count. Doesn’t matter how you do this so long as you do it. Every time I opened the story I would note the word count -so whether good or bad it was in my face- see below, I’ve recorded it since October through just the second week of January this year. My goal also stares me in the face, meaning I made 70 – 90K in big bold letters, which I hope to accomplish by March.
In addition letting go and rearranging some things, as I reviewed what I’ve been doing, I tried to evaluate changes that really made a difference in my output and examined what it was, in some instances that was affecting me when my count for the day was way down. You’ll see below, where I wrote only 156 words? Wow, all time low. 😦 Depressing but it’s important not to focus on it, it just makes you do better next time.
Now, the standards you already know and should be doing if you’re serious about increasing your word count:
1. CUT OUT DISTRACTIONS and I do mean cut them out, no TV, and even turning off notifications that pop up and muting the phone and the internet so you’re not hearing that and then rushing to see who is that? It’s the only way the thoughts really had a chance to flow. I even try to use music that’s mostly instrumentals. Music creates a mood but sometimes words can infiltrate your flow unawares.
2. Let others know what’s important to YOU and how they can HELP YOU meet your own goals – I’ve said this in other blog posts, if people care about you and what makes you happy, shouldn’t they desire to support you however they can? Let people know “I need this time (say a few hours) and during that time, I need you to be safe (children) and you to be self-sufficient (spouse and all others)”. You may need to set up routines in order to do this so that will have to go into the planning for this time you’re going to be working on your goal.
3. Just DO IT – even in the midst of chaos. News flash: You can’t arrange everything the way you’d like to before getting down to work. You have to work in the midst of chaos sometimes. You have to work when it’s not convenient or when you’re not comfortable. If you wait until you can create the perfect “zen-like atmosphere” you may never get around to doing what you want. AND aren’t these really just another procrastination (distraction) trick of the devil?
Now the real tips:
1. Write during any possible time you can find using your little microphone button and TALKING your TEXT on your phone. See this button on your phone next to the space bar? I dare you to try it, open your e-mail, put the cursor in the body of the e-mail (if you don’t move the cursor to the body, your text will be in the “to” field that will just make you mad), LOL. When the cursor is in the right place, press the microphone button and just start talking at a normal pace. JUST TRY IT. This is just DRAGON on a budget – if you don’t want to make a full commitment to the Dragon Software or the App (which the app is free) this is a great way to test out whether or not “talking (or speech) to text” is right for you and if it is, purchasing the Dragon program won’t be a waste of funds.
2. Leave your manuscript at the height of action or rapid fingers (this is also a tip many suspense writers use). Hide a portion of the text from yourself and when you return keep working as if you have not figured out the rest. Surprisingly, the idea you had yesterday may be that much more refined and may have increased in the number of words you used to describe it compared to the day before.
DO NOT look at what you’ve written already, just keep going from that point. You may find you write more, you have new ideas or you may repeat whatever it is you said when you left. All of these possibilities are fine. The goal is to let new ideas come about, which happens all the time and challenge yourself to work out new, fresh (and sometimes verbose) output.
3. Count and keep counting. There is something wonderful about seeing how far you’ve come which then encourages and helps push you onward. Seeing how many words I’ve done for the day is extremely powerful and has pushed me to the next one thousand words.
Regarding the word count, I realize that Scrivener does this for you but I also like to simply write. While I have Scrivener, I find typing straight in MS Word or any other typing program minus too much formatting, is organic and as pure as computer users can be with their writing (e.g. without all the bells and whistles).
Starting word count – date = total count from the day
12,274 – 12/16/2016 = 2189
15,034 – 12/17/2016 = 2760
16,644 – 12/20/2016 = 1610
17,217 – 12/21/2016 = 573
19,523 – 12/23/2016 = 2306
24,216 – 12/24-25/2016 = 4693
25,853 – 12/26/2016 = 1637
26,004 12/29/2016 = 151 – all time low. I tried to examine what was happening to make the count so low that day but sometimes you’ll never really figure it out. You’ll have to chuck the loss up to maybe you had an event, a catastrophe or just regular life that happens. Who knows?
26,613 12/30/2016 = 609
28,512 – 1/1/2017 = 1899
31,820 – 1/2/2017 = 3308
34,995 – 1/3/2016 = 3175
38380 – 1/4/2017 = 3385
40,154 – 1/5/2017 = 1774
41,376 – 1/6/2016 = 1536
43,422 – 1/7/2017 = 2046
49,303 – 1/13/2017 = 5881
You’ll see through this above, I also don’t write every day. This isn’t about writing every day. If you are able to write every single day, then you will be even closer, but if you are not, seeing some sort of progress is still important. If you divide your total by however many days are missing, you will still have something to show for, for the days in between.
I’m most excited when I write to myself in my e-mail, Evernote or whatever I’m using for the day, which btw, doesn’t count your words, and then cut/paste that text into the document.
An important tip through all of these methods I outline will be to ensure that you pick (and stick to) ONE method of recording/typing work. Too many methods to write your book will only cause frustration and you may lose your material or end up spending too much time to locate your recently written prose. For me, I focus on e-mails to myself, even when I use the “speak to text” – the speech is still in an e-mail to myself. That’s it. Also, these are snippets and are not full blown books or complete chapters. If my account were to be hacked, good luck making sense of scenes that will make very little sense to someone outside of my brain. Copyrights are a major discussion but you really shouldn’t be concerned about copyright infringement in the suggestions I’ve listed here. There are other things to consume yourself with worry over.
4. Lastly, take advantage of EVERY idol OPPORTUNITY to get writing done – that means, on your lunch break, coffee break, sitting in doctor’s office, standing in line, waiting for a child to get off the bus, WHEREVER you can find time, put some words down! Whether it’s a full chapter or a few paragraphs, does not matter. You will see and be excited over every word once you see what you’ve gotten down and merge with the rest of your manuscript.
Often, I write portions of my story in an e-mail and send it to myself, cutting and pasting the text into my main story when I get back to the original document, usually on a desktop at home on the ranch. To help generate some thoughts if I’m at a loss, I may also take a written snippet from the story – already in progress- and send that to myself as a simple jump-starter to keep writing or finesse when I have time.
People are also much more portable these days but personally, I don’t like to carry a lot of technology devices with me everywhere I go, thus any smartphone and all its features will suffice. However, you can experience perfect, seamless access to your story through Google Drive, Docs, Evernote or any of the other numerous apps available no matter where you are in the world. Just be certain you take the time to understand how to back up your data (something that saves every few minutes automatically will be much better) and that data can be synced across programs and platforms, so you don’t end up working on several different versions nor begin to start missing or losing portions of your hard work.
Those are the ways that I have increased my word count. Tell me about yours in the comments.