Counting Words

I’ve been working on a novel for a long time now. It’s taking longer to write it than I ever wanted or intended. Different things have taken time away from it, whether it be my dedication to short fiction or circumstances of life.

I thought a lot about it recently and asked myself some questions. Am I really going to finish this thing? How long is it going to take me? Do I really want to write this?

Of course I want to write it, I told myself. Why else would I have started it in the first place?

Then I thought about the first two questions and I realized it’s totally up to me. All I have to do is commit. I realized I’m in control.

So I set out to find methods to help motivate me and increase my productivity. First I had some artwork done of my two protagonists and the antagonist. I framed them and put them on the wall behind my desk so that whenever I’m writing they’re looking down on me, pushing me along to tell their story.

The next thing I did was start writing down my word counts each day. I didn’t set a specific goal per day or have any expectations of how much I’d write. I just put down how many words I was able to bleed out. Then I found myself wanting to beat previous word counts. I’d look at my averages and highest counts and feel the desire to do better, beat my top score.

Some days it works and I get a lot done. Other days I do almost nothing.

But it didn’t matter whether or not I beat my high score with well written prose or wrote a measly spattering of bad sentences. I was making progress.

That’s what mattered. Not necessarily how much I did each day, but the fact that I was writing nearly every day and getting work done.

This system has been working for me so far and it’s a no pressure way of getting myself to write. I didn’t like the weight of a specific number resting on my shoulders all the time. The easygoing approach to increasing my word counts makes me want to write more, not feel like I have to.

Different things work for different people, but this has certainly worked for me.


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