How to Increase Your Daily Word Count
Are you struggling to get those words out of your head and onto that blank page? Or, even find time to write? But, when you do write your daily word count is quite small.
Perhaps you have a nine to five which is more like an eight to six then you go home to a family or spouse, cooking dinner, and cleaning. And, amongst all of the things, you have spinning on your plate you need to find time to write.
It’s at this point you feel like you don’t have the time to write and the temptation to let go of your writing dreams become tempting. The truth is, you don’t need more time, you need to use the time you have more efficiently and increase your daily word count.
My Personal Experience
In this blog post, I will share with you six tips on how to increase your word count, which I use every day. By using these tips, I went from struggling to write on a consistent basis to writing the last 30,703 words of Immunity in the last 21 days of October and writing the first 23,000 words of my prequel novel, Silence. I managed to do all of this by not writing on weekends and writing for three hours every weekday. While you may not have three spare hours to write every day, these same tips apply to smaller chunks of time. In this blog post, I talk about how to increase your daily word count in relation to writing fiction, but these tips can be applied to non-fiction writing as well. So, feel free to substitute the term scene for section or chapter for the non-fiction equivalent.
#1. When are you at your best?
If you want to pursue writing as a career, then I recommend saving your writing sessions for when you are at your best. There is a lot of well-meaning writing advice that encourages aspiring writers to write in the morning. While this may work for some writers, it’s important to understand when you are at your best. Do you love mornings or are you a night owl?
#2. What do you have going on in your life?
If you’ve been following or reading my blog for a while, then you can probably guess where I’m going with this tip. If you’re currently not making any process on a daily basis in regards to your word count, then you need to consider how you’re using your time. How much time do you have outside of your primary commitments like work? How much time do you want to spend with your family, on household tasks, spending time with friends? The first step is to create a calendar and schedule in your commitments. Make sure that you are using the time you have wisely. An example of this would be, washing up and listening to podcasts about writing and publishing, or reading on the train, writing during your lunch break. As you look at your calendar, ask yourself the following question. Can any of your tasks be outsourced? You might want to consider hiring a cleaner, grocery shopping online, sharing household responsibilities with your significant other, or hiring a virtual assistant.
#3. Create a Habit
Everything you do in your life revolves around habit. We all have good habits and bad habits. A bad habit I used to have was procrastinating or giving in to the feeling of ‘I don’t want to write, today.’ Over time my response to my desire to procrastinate became a habit. The image below is a screenshot of the word count tracker for my book Immunity. It’s evidence of the extent of my bad habit.
You’ll notice that my writing became more on consistent on October 12, 2016, this was the day I decided to treat my fiction writing as a business. I started out writing my daily word count and progress in a journal, and I slowly moved to use an app called Strides. Strides, helps you to create a habit by setting a goal to do something a certain number of times a week. The app will give you a daily reminder to check off whether you have completed your goal for the day. I use this app to make sure I’m writing five days a week, and I’m reading seven days a week. While, I do have moments where I slip up, but it’s easier for me to get back on track. As you can see by the image below, I’m far from perfect, but my writing habit has improved significantly.
#4. Kill Distractions
When you’re aiming to increase your daily word count without spending more time writing, one of your biggest enemies will be distractions. Even as I’m writing this blog post, I’m letting distraction get in the way of me finishing the first draft. I just spent the last ten minutes looking back at past blogs to check a formatting issue that could have waited. I used to do the same thing when I was writing the first section of my book, immunity. These distractions came in the form of researching, fact-checking or browsing through my Instagram feed, or a desire to dance along to the music I was listening to at the time.
After reading 5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox, I realised my lack of discipline and not killing distractions was stopping me from achieving my writing goals. I created a checklist of distractions that I turn off before I start each writing session. Remember, mono-tasking is your friend.
#5. Plan Ahead
I’m a huge fan of planning; this is one of the reasons why I do not recommend ‘pantsing’ your novel unless you understand story structure and have been writing stories for years. Planning ahead and knowing what you’re going to write before you start. Planning ahead will help eliminate the time you spend searching for inspiration or figuring out what you’re going to write. I recommend you create an online for your novel, but an outline at this level isn’t enough, you need to start doing a scene outline.
When you create an outline for a scene, consider the goal for the scene. What is the purpose of this scene? What needs to happen in this scene to drive the story forward? As you answer these questions, spend a few moments playing the scene over in your mind. After you finish playing the scene over in your mind, write down a few notes to ensure you include these key moments in your scene. Make a note of the characters, time and place, major events, and how the character’s world changes at the end of the scene.
Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, there is one thing that can put a stop to your goal to increase your daily word count. This one thing is not having enough information to write the scene or chapter. Not having enough information can cause you to reach a moment where you need to pause and do some research. If you run through the scene in your mind, then outline your scene the information you need will become clear. It’s at this point before you dive into writing a scene that you should do any necessary research.
#6. Timed Sessions
When I started out writing before I started writing books, I wrote screenplays. I used to sit down and write, while I outlined and structured the screenplay, I never gave myself a time limit. I took this habit to write non-fiction books and fiction novels. The most interesting thing about time is the amount of work you have will shrink and expand to fit the amount of time you allocate to it.
There a few authors who have written books about increasing your word count and all of these authors talk about using a timer. In Chris Fox’s book, he talks about writing in shorter increments of time, like 20 minutes to 30 minutes. He refers to these increments of time as writing sprints. These writing sprints help you to focus on the task at hand, writing the scene in front of you; this means just writing and no editing, save the editing for the re-writing phase. If you see something that needs re-writing, make a note and move on. I’ve only been using this technique for a few days now, but I’ve seen an increase in my daily and hourly word counts.
As you can see from the images above, my daily word count has changed from 2,900 words to 4,000 in the same amount of time. The only difference I made was writing when I was at my best, killing distractions, outlining scenes, and using writing sprints. If you’re looking for further tips then check out 5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox and 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron.*
As always, I have a few important questions to ask you. Are you an aspiring author who is looking to increase your daily word count? How are you going to use these truths to ensure you write more words on a daily basis? I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your actionable steps in the comments section below.
Thank you for listening, reading, commenting and sharing with such enthusiasm.
* DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. The commission helps support the blog and allows us to continue to make content like this. Thank you for the support. 🙂
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.