Getting Your Head Around the Wordcount

Rena George Word counts, Writers, Writing 4 Comments

I was planning to write a post today about wordcounts, and how some authors can manage a colossal output.

For instance, best selling crime writer, Kerry Wilkinson, produces FOUR of his phenomenally successful DI Jessica Daniel books a year. (I don’t think he sleeps)

But the prolific Val McDermid is comfortable with just one of her blockbusting novels a year. (This is her recent interview with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Check it out. It’s brilliant!)

Now I love writing but it’s not the only thing in my life, so I write in the morning and save the research, promotion, social media stuff (and the housework) for afternoons.

Scrolling through the previous posts here to see if I had covered the subject before, I found (below) one of my earliest postings. It was published more than three years ago, but it still holds good today.

How to Write 10,000 Words a Day…(I wish)

How many words can you write in a day – 2,000w, 5,000w, 10,000w?

I suppose most of us are in the 1,000w to 2,000w bracket. And if you can achieve this, day in day out, then that’s not a bad result…unless, of course, there’s a way of doing better.

Chrissie Loveday, a writer I really admire, revealed in a recent comment on The Pocketeers blog that she could, on a good day, achieve 5,000 words. And Sally Quilford, one of the most prolific writers of Pocket Novels and Large Print novels, recently told me she puts her high word count down to the fact that she’s a touch typist and can whiz through a first draft at top speed.

Now me…I’m more your snail’s pace kind of writer, mainly because I do a lot of checking and researching along the way. I know the sensible advice is not to do this, but to rattle on without any backtracking. I just don’t feel comfortable ignoring a page that I know will be sprinkled with literals, spelling mistakes, not to mention other glaring errors. So it doesn’t come easy for me to ignore all of this and forge on regardless in the pursuit of that elusive high word count.

Some of you will already be familiar with Rachel Aaron’s tips (and books) about achieving 10,000 words a day, but in case you’re not, it’s here.

Her suggestions are probably targeted more to novel writing than short stories. But it’s like all advice. You take what is useful to you, and forget the rest.

Her strategy is based on knowing what you’re going to write before you write it. A committed planner, she has a pretty good idea where every scene is going before she starts. She takes five minutes before a writing session to sketch out in a notebook what is going to happen – short descriptions of places, rough outlines of conversations.

Of course, going back to check details, change spelling or grammar – all those compulsive little things that I do  – is a big ‘No No’  I completely understand this, and I don’t expect to be able to change the habits of a lifetime overnight.

Even if I could hit the 10K target once a week, or even once a month, it would still represent a great chunk of extra output, so I am definitely going to try.

I know this method won’t work for every writer, and striving for such a high output will not be practical for many of us…but 10K words a day! Wow! Who wouldn’t want to write that fast?

…And, just to keep me motivated, this is the glass of chilled wine I’ll be enjoying at the end of the day. Cheers

If you have another pet way for getting that word count up, please do share.

Comments 4

  1. Everyone has to find their own ‘sweet spot’ that works for them. Planning before wouldn’t work for me because I never know what’s going to happen! Chrissie is a good friend of mine and a wonderful inspiration 🙂

    1. Post

      It’s lovely to see you here, Angela. Welcome to the blog and thank you for leaving a comment. I’ve never met Chrissie, but I love her books and can understand why you say she is an inspiration. You’re right of course about every writer having their own way of working, but I’m a restless spirit, so I’m always keen to try out something new that might improve my work. I’d love to say I could just sit at my computer and write, but that would be a disaster for me. I’m a compulsive planner, I’m afraid.

      1. I have to say, many thanks to both Rena and Angela for their lovely comments!
        I am actually undergoing a bit of a change in writing lately. I’m trying to become a crime writer and have now published two and nearly finished a third. I must say, I don’t find it quite so easy as romance and will possibly go back to that every now and then.
        I’m not so good at doing 5k words a day either. Not sure if it’s because I’m out of my comfort zone or maybe I’m just getting old!

        1. Post

          Really interesting that you’re now writing crime novels, Chrissie, although many of your books already have that edge of mystery. I’ll look forward to reading all the new stuff. Xx

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