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Saturday, 10 September 2016

Writing – word-count – progress

From time to time, we hear writers talking about how many words they’ve written ‘today’. 
Some writers say that a book has taken months or even years to write. But in all probability it hasn’t. The writer wasn’t spending all hours on that book. The work was interrupted by ‘life’ – family, friends, work that pays the bills, holidays, and a multitude of other commitments that get in the way.

Writing a novel, I feel, is work, not play. Enjoyable work, granted. But it should be treated the same as ‘work’. 

The normal working day consists of eight hours. Yes, I’m sure that many writers spend eight hours in any particular day working on their book – that is, thinking, researching, juggling words and phrases, tweaking, and even writing new material.

For quite a while now, I’ve advocated that it’s helpful to keep a record of progress, and one of the ways to do that is by using a spreadsheet.

I write in ‘sessions’ – they may be for an hour, 2 hours, or even 30 minutes. I record each time period session. When the sessions add up to 8 hours, I call that a ‘day’.

For interest, I’ve looked back on my latest work, The Khyber Chronicle, which has just hit 45,000 words (about 35,000 to go!)

For the last 5 days of work (that is, 5 x 8-hour sessions), the word-count came out thus:

Day     word-count
1          5895
2          4816
3          5189
4          4975
5          8231

I go into this aspect of calculating word-count on pp18-19 in Write a Western in 30 Days – with plenty of bullet points! (Suitable for not only writers of westerns, but writers of all genre fiction). There are a few good reasons to apply this method. It isn’t the only method, it may not be the best, but it works for me.

Naturally, writing the requisite number of words is only the beginning. Then comes the self-edit, the checks for logic, plot holes, lack of description and all the rest. But getting the words down in the first place is the most important part. Something to build on, to hone thereafter.

Good luck!

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