Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Time Management Tuesday: Using Word Count To Help Manage Time

I was wandering around last week's IndieReCon (I still haven't finished browsing the offerings there), when I came upon what was called on the schedule How to Write Fast: 2k to 10k, 2 Years Later by Rachel Aaron. (It's called something different when you follow the link.) Write fast! I thought. If I could do that, wouldn't it have a big, big impact on how I spend my time?

I also recalled hearing about other writers who do use word count to help them manage time. They set themselves a word limit that they must do each day and don't stop working until they've met it. Word count for time management isn't something we've discussed here, so I checked out this IndieReCon offering.

I am not going to address quality and the issue of whether more is less or less is more. Is it better to write a few brilliant passages or crank out some serious volume of whatever quality that you can at least edit in the future? I'm going to try to stick to word count with no value judgement.

Author Rachel Aaron got started writing about word count back in 2011 with a post at her blog called How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day. In it she says there are three elements to increasing word count. The first two I found particularly interesting.
  • Know what you're going to write before you get started. This means doing some planning at the beginning of each writing session. Serious plotters/outliners may say they've already done this. Organic writers, such as myself, might want to create a daily pre-writing planning routine. I'm still revising right now, so it will be a while before I can try it.
  • Analyze how you're using your writing time. Over a period of a couple of months, keep track of your word count and determine what time of the day it is highest. Then try to make sure that you're able to work then.
  • Try to find something to excite you about every scene you have to write. Word count goes up when you're writing the fun scenes. (Sometimes known as candy bar scenes.)
Aaron says in her IndieReCon piece that after two years she isn't writing at the 10,000 word rate she'd first hit when she came up with her system. That would produce 5 to 6 books a year. She's writing at a rate that produces 3 to 4. That's still fast writing.

I don't know how well relying heavily on word count for managing time will work, given the situational problems writers often find themselves dealing with. Word count for a WIP goes out the window if you have to plan a presentation or revise for an editor. Plus Aaron is a self-published writer. Being able to write multiple books a year is important to many self-pubs, particularly the more entrepreneurial ones who are truly trying to make a living with just writing. Other types of writers who have income sources through teaching and making appearances or just a regular day job won't  feel a need to produce as much that quickly. But given all the demands on writers' time, doesn't being able to write more quickly sound very attractive?

Aaron has written a book about writing faster, which I just bought. I'll check it out and be posting on anything new I find there.

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