Maureen Kauzlarich

Children's Author

Six Simple Word Count Goals

Writers can get absorbed with word count. Having a goal in mind pushes them to write every day and form good writing habits. There are many ways writers can go about their word count goals. Using a calendar or a clock are the two main items that help writers with their ambitions. Here are six simple methods for counting words and ways to establish writing goals.




1. Daily 


A lot of writers keep a daily goal of writing 1,000 words a day. It's a decent goal, propelling the book project forward each day with lots of words. There are two ways to do this goal: Writing all at one time or throughout the day. Easier said than done. An easier way is to shorten the word count to five hundred words or even ten words. Sometimes the main goal is to start. Not having a huge word count pressuring you can help in that department. You will most likely end up writing more than that ten-word goal, but you'll feel better that you met it.


2. Weekly & Monthly 


Some writers keep a monthly goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month. Why that much? Well, that's an entire novel in just one month! (Check out NaNoWriMo, an organization that encourages writers to achieve 50,000 words every November.) It is also doable in weeks by writing, for example, 10,000 words by the end of the week. Weekly and monthly writing goals are different from daily goals because they are longer. Some days can be different word counts than other days. You can also combine the daily goal to make sure you meet the weekly or monthly long-term count. 


3. Writing Around a Schedule


If you need to work around a difficult schedule, having smaller word count goals can help to meet the larger one. Let us say you want to write 2,000 words in a day to meet a weekly goal of 14,000 words, but only have short instances to write. You can break it down into even smaller word counts throughout the busy day. Do something like write 300 words the first time you sit down to write then 700 words next time. Repeat. Another 300 words after work and 700 words before bed would help with meeting such a feat. 


Tip: Don't Count the Day Before


The biggest tip for calendar goals is to not beat yourself today for not meeting your goal yesterday. Try not to use a new writing day to make up for the day before. Each day has its own set of challenges and everyday needs the fresh start treatment. You shouldn't make up the past. That's a quick way to feel bad about your writing goals.





4. Sprints


Timing yourself and writing as fast as you can is the best way to turn writing into a competitive sport. It challenges your brain and pressures it to make quick decisions. It's always a surprise at the end of a quick ten-minute writing sprint to see a lot of words on the page. It's one of the best ways to get yourself writing in the first place and it's something you can do with others. There are word sprint challenges all over the internet throughout the day. A simple turn of the timer for five or fifteen minutes can get your writing going.



5. Blocks


A block of time, whether it be an hour or three is a good way to get words down. Dividing your day by morning or night, then choosing a chunk of time to write can produce your best writing. By the end of the block of time you can count your words and record them or you can have a goal in mind beforehand. As long as you dedicate this time to writing, you can't lose.



6. Pomodoro


Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? Got a full day of writing ahead of you that you want to make the most of? It's 25 minutes of doing something productive and focusing all your energy on it. One 25-minute session is called a pomodoro. For three-to-five minutes you rest and then repeat. It's like sprints and blocks of time together in exercise mode. One pomodoro is an "interval" and four pomodoro’s makes a "set." It's the time spent working. You take an even longer break after a set. Wikipedia goes into greater detail of how to do the original Pomodoro Technique, but it can vary. If you have an entire day that you want to dedicate to getting the most word count possible, this a great method to try. There are many pomodoro apps or you can use a simple kitchen timer (which is the preferred method).



Tip: You Don't Have to Keep Count


There is one more point to be made about writing: you don't have to keep a word count at all. It's very easy to fall into the trap of mentally logging words and feeling bad about not meeting goals. By not keeping a word count but being happy that you wrote anything at all is still one foot forward. A goal of sitting in front of the computer or breaking out the old notebook once a day can summon the writing bug. Making a trigger that gets you to write may be the simplest way to get it done. Otherwise, use calendar and time goals to finish your book faster.

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