As a writer, the most important thing that one can do is make time every day to work on writing. That means setting goals, which often means relying on a word count. But what is a good daily word count?
When I first started writing fiction, I did so by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is a program I highly recommend for beginning authors because it really does help one get into the habit of sitting down every day to write. NaNoWriMo participants set a goal of 50,000 words in one month. When I wrote the first draft Zeus, Inc., during NaNoWriMo, I set a word count of 2,000 words per day. That’s the only way I felt I would meet the 50,000 word-goal. And it worked. I sat down nearly every day and threw out those words. At the end of the month, I had almost all of a rough draft of my first novel.
Since then, though, I’ve had to adjust my word goals. I now work as a entertainment writer, which means that most of my day is spent writing words. My daily word count is massive now, which means that by the time I get to working on fiction, I’m tired of words. And that makes it so easy to just not write each day. This is especially true when my daily word count goal is 2,000 words per day. I often feel like I just don’t have that many words left inside of me.
I tried adjusting that to 1,000 words per day and that made things a little easier. But even 1,000 additional words per day for fiction, in addition to the thousands I’m already writing, is a bit much. Then I saw someone post a quote on Facebook. I can’t remember which author said it, but it was about small word counts and how small word counts can make a writing goal a lot more achievable.
So I recently knocked myself down to 500 words per day. And you know what? I’m more motivated to write because that’s about 15 minutes worth of work. And it doesn’t feel like much, but every 500 words adds up. Sure, it might take me awhile to knock out a novel, but considering I was having trouble committing to writing every day, this will probably help me get that novel out faster than my normal “I’ll write when I feel like it” attitude that I’ve been suffering from.
Fellow writers, do you have a word count goal you try to tackle every day? Is it high or low? What works for you? I’d be curious to see what works for everyone else. In the meantime, I’m still in the process of wrapping up Goodbye, Fare Thee Well, which is finally making some serious progress due to my lower daily word count goal.