Monday, June 12, 2017

Daily Word Count: A Key to Consistent Writing

It’s not profound but true: writers write. A common bit of writing advice is to write every day.

Some people fill this daily need with a journal practice. They consistently write every day about their activities. I understand such a practice but I’ve never created or written such a journal.

I’ve interviewed over 150 bestselling authors about how they practice their craft of writing. It is rare but I found one writer who used a timer in his writing process. He set a timer and sat at his computer until the timer sounded. To me, this process did not make sense. Anyone can spend time staring a screen but that does not mean you are creating words or telling stories during that time. You could be simply staring off into space.

A much more productive and common practice among writers is to have a daily word count. The amount of this word count will be different for each writer. Some writers are on deadline and to meet their deadline, they have to produce a certain amount of words each day. Other writers have created a personal goal and the word count keeps them on track. If the writing comes quickly, then they achieve the goal in  short amount of time. If the words do not come, then they spent much more time and energy at their keyboard or computer.

Like prolific novelist Bodie Thoene told me, “No little elves come out of my closet to write 650 pages. Some mornings I don't feel like writing but I do it out of obedience to God.” Severely dyslexic, Bodie could not read her own name in the Third Grade yet she writes riveting 500 page historical novels. Her talent and importantly her discipline as a writer are an example to each of us.

A daily word count goal is a way for you as a writer to move your project forward. For example, I have a book manuscript under contract that I need to finalize and get off to my editor (yes every writer has an editor—even one as experienced as I am). Currently this manuscript has not been happening but I’m committed to working on it little by little and moving it forward. Without consistent effort, it will not happen.

You have to do the same sort of effort for your own writing. I have busy authors who struggle to complete their manuscripts. I encourage them to set even small daily word count goals and keep moving forward. Even if they commit to writing 500 words or two double-spaced pages, with consistent effort, a month will yield pages of results. Notice the word consistent and regular. That constant effort is what helps you complete the work. Thinking about it without action doesn’t do it.

Where are you stalled in your writing? Would a daily word count writing goal help you move forward? Let me know in the comment section.


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2 Comment:

At 4:12 AM, Blogger Dr. MaryAnn Left a note...

Thank you, Terry, for your post full of writing wisdom. Thinking (or talking) about writing without actually writing reminds me of the Scripture verse in James 2: 14: “Faith without works is dead.” You are right that being consistent about writing is absolutely essential to writing success.

For years, I have had a daily word count goal of 1000 words or 5000 words per week. I write on Monday through Friday each week. I have also set a writing schedule for myself. I write from 9:00am until 1:00 pm every week day. If I do not achieve my goal of 1000 words by 1:00pm, then I continue to write until I do. If, for some reason, I do not reach my daily writing goal, I do my best to make up the word count on Saturday when I can.

This discipline and this practice of consistent writing have helped me to be productive. When people ask me how I have accomplished so much, I reply, “By being disciplined and consistent."

If God has called us to write, then one day we must stand before Him and give an account for that call. This truth engenders the fear of the Lord in me--a holy reverence and respect for the will of our Master Whom I have chosen to follow. If I am truly a Christ-Follower, then I will obey Him. I will honor the call He has placed on my life to write for Him.



At 9:55 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thank yo for this comment and incredible insight. You are exactly right the discipline and consistency is important and word count helps you with these elements.



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