Many writers give the advice that you should write every day. I’ve even given that advice to other writers, and with all my heart I believe it to be the best advice for any writer. However, as I still have not fulfilled my dream of writing for a living, I still have a day job that often leaves me mentally drained at the end of the day, and so writing every single day is not something I have been able to master myself.
The main reason I think it is important to write every day isn’t because you’ll finish faster, rather it’s that doing so keeps you engaged with your story so that it is always fresh in your mind.
Though I don’t write every day, I do keep track of my word count on an Excel spreadsheet and set a minimum quota of new words that I must write for the month. I say new words, because I only count the words that add to the total word count. Many times when I’m editing, I throw away more words than I have written, so I actually end up with a negative word count for the day.
Constantly opening my word count spreadsheet inspires me to write frequently and ensures that I am always on track to finishing my next book. It’s also a nice way for me to see the progress I’ve made and it gives me a rough idea as to when I will finish my first full draft.
My original quota was 10,000 new words per month, but as my doctor, psychiatrist, and psychologist all believe I have too much stress in my life, I lowered it to only 5,000 new words per month. It wasn’t easy for me to cut my quota in half as I knew it would only slow the progress of my book. I already consider myself to be a slow writer, and am jealous of writers who are able to put out multiple books per year. But the flip side is that 5,000 new words per month is such an easy goal to achieve, that it never feels overwhelming to sit down and write.
I may write slowly, but I do finish, and that’s what’s most important. The Scribbled Victims, which was 82,000 words took me two years to write and rewrite, and its sequel, Scribbling The Eternal looks like it will take just as long, if not longer. Below is a screenshot of my word count spreadsheet for this month. You’ll see that today I wrote 581 new words and that I’m well over my 5,000 words for the month. You’ll also see Scribbling The Eternal has surpassed 100,000 words. If you saw how far the monthly tabs go back you’d see I started writing the sequel in December 2016. I highlight the weekends so that I focus on them as they are my most productive days since I spend them at Starbucks instead of my office staring at the financial spreadsheets I’m paid to work with.