Saturday Listicle: 5 Ways to Maintain Word Count

Hello friendos and dears!

The year 2020 is almost over. I know, I know. It’s been a crazy ride, and I think most of us are both terrified and esctatic that this weird, weird year is going to be coming to a close. For myself, despite the pandemic, I’ve had a great year for writing. I mean, a great year. I started tracking my daily word count in March and I’ve seen that, wow, I really write A LOT. This is coming off a streak where I didn’t write more than a few hundred words a month and hated my writing, my life and myself.

Now I only hate one of those things. Okay, two of them. Fine, all of them. I’m a depressed writer with mental health problems and student loan debt. Happy!?

I kid, I kid.

I’ve come from a place of dreading writing and hating everything I write to actually liking some of it? And finishing two novels in a year? Maybe three? And I thought to myself, how in the hell did I get here? And is there a way I can help other people in the same boat as I was two years ago?

And here, my friends, I have sat in deep meditative reflection (read: sat on my butt rewatching JoJo’s Part Four for the second time) and came up with these five things that I do to maintain word count. Some of them might work for you, some may not, but I hope that something in this El-Listicle ™ may be useful to you.

Without further ado,

  • At first, back in March, I only tracked my big projects in my spreadsheet
  • Then, in July I added a new column: “other”
  • That was a catch-all for other writing: poems, blogs, stories outside the big projects
  • This was done, at first, because my word count was dropping off and I felt like I was writing a lot and I didn’t see where the drop off was coming from
  • Then, it grew into separate categories, and now it’s just a thing that’s a part of my word count
  • And I started to see that I wrote much more than I thought, because I started realizing that more things were writing
  • Fanfiction? Yeah, it’s not using my characters, but it’s still writing. I still work hard at it, and people really like it. I think. No one’s told me they hate it…yet
  • Blogging? That’s not fiction, but it still requires a lot of effort to write good non-fiction content. And it all kind of tells a story anyways. And somedays I count my Instagram posts and Tumblr posts, both the official ™ and fandom one, because that’s writing too
  • So my advice: diversify your view of what writing is, and what writing can be, and you might be surprised at how prolific you really are.

  • As I mentioned above, I have a word count spreadsheet.
  • Many, in fact, for each month since March
  • I also use Write Track, which I’ve mentioned before on this blog
  • Write Track gives me something to shoot for every day, which has really helped me get projects done
  • My spreadsheets also propel me forward, because I like seeing a really big number at the end of the month and it’s fun to see just how much over my daily word count I get in a day
  • Something about having a measured goal really makes me want to achieve it. Maybe it’s that SMART goal shit people keep talking about, because having a vague goal like “work on (insert project here) today” just wasn’t doing it, but “write 200 words of (insert project here)”? That gets me going. That gets me grooving.
  • So, if you’re the kind of person that’s motivated by numbers, this may be a good option for you!

  • I’ve talked about this before too, but I used to write linearly. I couldn’t move onto the next scene. So I’d be stuck for days, hitting my head against the wall trying to figure out one scene, the whole flow of the project grinding to a screeching halt as I watch two overly muscular men get chased around a field by rats with magic gun powers….so, basically, not a good time
  • So, when I was working on NaNo last year, I couldn’t get slowed down. I had a deadline to meet, goddamn it, and I was going to meet it!
  • So, since I had everything expertly plotted out, I knew what was coming next. It wouldn’t be so bad if I just….skipped ahead a little bit, right?
  • And, lo and behold, word count was made. Praise the lord.
  • And it was made for many, many days afterwards
  • See, even though stories follow a path, it doesn’t mean that you, as the author, have to. The reader doesn’t see the first draft anyways, and you can connect it all later! Linear progression is for time. You’re creative! You can do whatever you want! Write the action scenes first, who cares?
  • It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey. And journeys can take any path you want.

  • I love music.
  • I listen to music constantly. I love it.
  • I find that, just like with exercising, I can go for hours if I have the right tunes.
  • It took a while to find my current writing favourites, but now that I have them, I adore it.
  • That doesn’t meant I listen to the same music all the time, or that I listen to it while I do all my writing. As I’ve mentioned above…I rewatch stuff all the time and write while I do
  • But, if I’m stuck, or need that last push to get to word count…music makes all the difference
  • I personally recommend Spotify, because a) the artist gets money and b) if you’re looking for a certain mood, or a certain sound, there’s a playlist for it. You don’t have to make it yourself! More time for writing!

  • This last one is related to writing linearly.
  • Sometimes, I’d come to a scene in my outline I just wasn’t in the emotional place to write. It was too happy, or too lovey-dovey, and I was in a dark mood.
  • So, I listened to myself, and wrote the next scene based on my emotions at the time.
  • I think, in search of genuineness and honesty in writing, that writing from your emotions and through your emotions is a valuable tool.
  • I think, also, I use writing as a form of therapy. Being able to write about what I was feeling that day made my mood better, because I wasn’t going against it, I was exploring the emotion through my writing, and then I could express what I was feeling verbally and move on.
  • I’ll always preach about using writing and art as a form of self-therapy, and I think, if you’re stuck or you’re looking to make your wordcount, you can use your emotions as a source of inspiration, not as an obstacle.

And that’s that, some of the techniques I’ve been using to make my daily word count goals! Do you have any techniques? Let me know below!

Until next time,

Elka Scott

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Elka Scott writes short and novel-length fiction as well as poetry. She studied creative writing and psychology at university and is currently working to become a creative writing therapist. Elka lives in Saskatchewan and recently received a grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board to write her first graphic novel.

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