Ciao, SEers. Happy Wednesday!
How can we increase our daily totals?
Five Tips to Increasing Daily Word Count
- Have a Routine
Write in the same place, at the same time, every day. Try to keep your tools organized and unchanging. (Red pens in cup to your right. Coffee cup to your left. Post-It Notes in center drawer. You get the idea.) The more structured your routine, the less likely you are to veer from it.
- Use Deliberate Ambiance
If you like music when you write, call up your tailored playlist. If you like the sound of thunderstorms and crackling fires (even in summertime), or the chatter and silverware-clinking of a coffeehouse (but you can’t get to one), then open your favorite ambient noise mix. (I’m a big fan of Ambient Mixer, and this is not an affiliate link. The site is free.) Prefer silence? Close your door and get noise-canceling headphones. Setting the right mood will go a long way in increasing your speed.
- Have a Plan
Yes, outliners have the advantage here. But I’m talking about more than the plotter-versus-pantser debate. If at the end of your writing day you start thinking about the following day’s work, you will be preparing yourself for your next writing session. Even as you do other chores or sleep, your subconscious can be priming you for your next pages.
- Sprint with Partners
Nothing like a little competition to get those fingers flying. Gather a group of writer-friends (online friends work just as well as local ones), set a start time and a time limit, and race. Eliminate all distractions (Internet, cell phones, whatever steals your attention from work) and write. Don’t re-read. Don’t edit. Just write. At the end of the time limit, everyone reports their totals. Best part? Every sprinter wins because everyone increased their word count. (But be honest, you want to be the writer with the most words, don’t you?)
- Keep a Record of Your Results
The best way to know if you’re improving is to keep track. You can write that total every day in a notes application. You can create an elaborate spreadsheet with a lot of details. Whichever you prefer. But a record will help you start to notice trends. You write more on Tuesday. You write less after work. Days that you exercise result in better totals. Once you see your trends, you can exploit them.
Curious how your routine matches that of famous authors? Let’s compare.
- Rises and has a cup of tea.
- Has his vitamin, plays his music, makes sure his papers are in order.
- Starts work between 8:00 and 8:30.
- Writes for 3-4 hours; averages 6 pages a day.
- Works first thing in the morning, as close to first-light as possible to avoid distractions.
- Manages 500 words a day.
- Up at 5:30. Coffee with husband at 6:00.
- He leaves at 6:30. She goes to the hotel room she rents by 7:00.
- Rents only a basic room, not a suite.
- Keeps dictionary, Bible, playing cards, and a bottle of sherry.
- Usually writes from 7:00 to 2:00.
- On a bad day, quits by 12:30.
- On a good day, may work past 2:00.
- At home, read over day’s work. Then starts dinner.
- By the time her husband gets home, she’s put her work behind her.
- Up at 5:30, works until 8:00.
- Eats breakfast, works until 11:00.
- Walks to town, runs errands, takes a half-hour swim in private.
- Eats lunch at 12:00 at home.
- School to teach or plan.
- Home at 5:30. Drinks a lot of Scotch then has dinner.
- Reads and/or listens to jazz.
- Does a lot of situps and pullups throughout the day.
- Ernest Hemingway | 500
- Margaret Meade | 1,000
- Mark Twain | 1,400
- Lee Child | 1,800
- Nicholas Sparks | 2,000
- Stephen King | 2,000
- Norman Mailer | 3,000
- Anne Rice | 3,000
- Michael Crichton | 10,000
A girl can work hard for it, too.