Do you remember the most words you’ve ever written in one day? For me, it was a few years ago, on the last Saturday in November. NaNoWriMo time was running out… I wrote 12,000 words! (But a lot of them weren’t very good.) As we approach Camp NaNoWrimo season, thoughts again turn toward daily word goals. I don’t know about you, but I view that word count tracker as a foe. I hate that bar. But I love the sublime feeling when I beat it. On those days, it’s hard to keep from smiling. Is there a way to increase word count without sacrificing quality (even for a rough draft)? If you’re trying to push your quota during April, here are three sure-fire ways to kick the counter!
I know, I know, some of us are Planners and some of us are Pantsers. But hear me out. I read this post two years ago and it changed the way I plot. Now, in a cheap spiral notebook, I put the main idea of a scene at the top of a page, and jot down a few notes for each scene. That’s it. I took Rachel’s advice and only spend five minutes outlining before each writing session.I get the best of both worlds: the confidence of knowing what comes next and the delicious surprise of discovery when the characters do something I don’t expect. I can follow a rabbit path if I want, knowing I can always find my way back to my rough outline. It’s freeing, not stifling.
Set the timer. Some people like fifteen-minute sprints, while for others, it takes nearly that long to refocus. They do better with half-hour jogs. When the timer goes off, reset it and go do something else for *only fifteen minutes*. When the timer sounds again, come back to the keyboard. Do this throughout the day or until you reach your quota. I also recommend setting rewards for yourself. For example, if I do three sprints, I get to watch an episode (JUST ONE) of a tv show, or I get a walk or coffee. Never underestimate the power of caffeine to motivate…
Is there a scene that has you stuck? Is there a scene you can’t wait to write? Skip around! There’s no reason you have to torture yourself, crawling along at sloth-speed to get through the scenes chronologically, especially if you’re using an outline. You can write the scenes that make your heart pound, then go back and fill in the gaps. You may even discover that it changes your approach to transitional scenes. If, when compared to your exciting scenes, the transitions are boring, you may decide to cut them altogether and find a different way to connect the best scenes.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t make the mistake I sometimes make and spend more time tracking your words than actually writing them! Focus on your story, be intentional with your budgeted time, and you’ll find you’re logging more words than ever. Good luck, campers!
What was your biggest daily word count, and what did you do to achieve it?