Lately, I’ve been trying to increase the number of steps I walk each day. I bought a pedometer to record them. At first I just went about my regular routine to see what I was achieving already. Sad. Very sad. Some days I didn’t even break 500!
Apparently, you need to do a minimum of 6000 a day to maintain good health, and well over that if you want to lose weight or increase fitness levels. After several months, I now consistently do 7000 steps and some days even more. One day last week, I topped 15000. Yay me!
Lately, I’ve also been trying to increase the number of words I write in a week. I made a wall chart to record them. At first I just went about my regular routine to see what I was achieving already. Sad. Very sad. Most days I didn’t even break 500!
The difference is, after several months, I’m better but still not averaging a decent word count. I don’t expect to do 7000 a day, but I definitely need to average more if I want to finish my novel any time soon.
A first draft in one year
At first glance, if you do the math, an 80,000 first draft written over a year, five days a week, 50 weeks in the year, would only require a measly 320 words a day! A 100,000 word book is only 400 words a day.
But let’s face it. Not every word you write is golden. And there needs to be time in there for research or plotting with sticky notes or just plain thinking. So aiming for a minimum of 500 words a day and will allow you to produce enough “good words” for a first draft.
I prefer to think of that as an average of 2500 good words a week for 35 to 40 weeks of the year. That still leaves plenty of weeks for research or holidays or whatever.
The problem is, when I think of 2500 a week, every week, I find that daunting, in the same way that I found the prospect of 6000 steps a day daunting. But I succeeded with the steps. So what did I do to get my steps up that I could apply to my writing?
The solution to increasing my steps:
- I wore my pedometer every day as a constant reminder and motivator.
- I coerced my husband into wearing one too so we could motivate each other.
- I didn’t try to do all 6000 at once during the day.
- I found times of the day when I could get in a quick 1000.
- I discovered that jogging got them done faster.
- I realized that every little bit counted towards the whole: walking while on the phone or jogging on the spot while waiting for the kettle to boil.
- I “rewarded” myself with a check mark on my chart for every day I achieved the 6000.
Therefore…the possible solution to writing 500 words every day:
- B.I.C [Butt in chair] every day. Doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write, or actively work on the draft in some way.
- Find a writing buddy so we can motivate each other.
- Write in several blocks of time if it’s hard to do them all at once.
- Identify quick items that move the project forward to do in limited time slots: look up a missing fact, decide on a character name, weigh up plot options.
- Use freefall to write quickly and get ahead of the internal editor.
- Realize that every little bit counts towards the whole – keep a notebook handy and use it: on the train to work, while waiting in the car….
- “Reward” myself every week I achieve the 2500. Chocolate? Solitaire? A new book?
What do you do to keep your word count clocking up week after week?