Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Word Count Goals - How do you hit them?

I'm working against a tight deadline this week, finishing my book versus going on my first real vacation in four years. No pressure! I've been working diligently, focusing wholly on my writing while leaving all admin--email, social media, dogs and housework for first thing in the morning and for after I've hit my word count goals for the day. I've been posting my word count totals this week and getting a lot of questions from folks so I thought I'd just answer them all real quick before I dive into my sprints for today.

How Do You Do It?

The simple answer? I put my ass in the chair and I write. I set a timer on my phone. 45 minutes of sprinting with no Facebook, no music, no television--nothing for a distraction.

I am something of a pantser meets plotter. I already know all the major goal posts in the story, so I follow those goal posts and let the story travel organically from there. In an ideal world, I'll hit 1500 words per 45 minute sprint. Sometimes I come in a little shorter, other times longer.

Here's a sample from the other day:


  • 8-9: 1707
  • 9-10: 1770
  • 10-11: 2001
  • 11-12: 1988
  • 12-1: 1687
  • 1-2: 1503
  • 2-3: 2017

I sprint for :45 minutes, then I have 15 minutes to stretch, dance, swap laundry, get a cuppa tea, whatever. Then back to sprinting.

All Day?

Yes, all day. I try to do in 8 hour blocks, just like an office day. I leave myself a window for 30 minutes at lunchtime. The stretch breaks are vitally important to the success of the sprints. I have a standing desk, so I alternate between standing and sitting in various sprints so I don't have tired legs or sore back.

Discipline, Practice

The sprints let me hit a 10K goal every day if I stay in an 8 hour writing window, if I go longer, I get more, if I go shorter, I get fewer. Four days into the sprints, I'll get some fatigue. Ideally I take a shorter day on day 4 or 5 and switch out to some other task: editing, blogging, or reading...something to refresh the muse.

This week I don't get that luxury because in a couple of days, I'm rolling out for vacay as I said earlier. This method works for me because I treat my writing like I do exercise, build stamina through regular intervals and varying my goals so I keep the mind sharp.

What if you get stuck?

I don't get stuck, if I find the words slow or I am slowing down, I vary it again. I may switch to 30 minute sprints with 15 minute breaks. I don't increase the break times, just vary the writing time. Sometimes if I'm writing and my timer goes off and I'm still in the middle of a thought, I keep going. When I finish whether it's 5, 10 or 15 minutes later, I still get my 15 minute break.

Those refreshers keep me charged and off I go. Does that help? I hope so. Every writer is different. You have to find the method that works for you. I'm off, time to sprint!

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