Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Daily Word Target?

Do you write a minimum number of words each day? I find Write1Sub1 is fantastic for keeping me producing finished short stories each week or month, but giving myself a daily word target is invaluable as well.

Right now, for example, I set myself the target of 500 new words every day. Emphasis on new. Editing stuff I've previously written doesn't count. But the editing part of writing is vital: writing, as we all know, is mostly about rewriting. I think this highlights a problem with the word-count target approach. It's easy to get stressed about hitting that 500 or 1000 or 2000 word target and not finding the time to polish and revise.

That's one reason my daily word target is relatively low right now. I like to allow myself time for polishing what I wrote yesterday before going on to today's new words. But if I was bashing out the first draft of a novel I'd be doing a lot less revising and would set myself a higher daily target. If I was redrafting that novel I might not even set myself a daily new-word count at all.

I think these targets are a matter of finding what works for you at any given time, then sticking to them as best you can. But, also, not beating yourself up if you fall short. If having a target doesn't help, don't have one. If it does, do.

What about you? Do you set yourself a daily word target? Or do you have a different approach?


  1. I set a daily word target if I am working on a specific story or novel, but I don't require myself to write fresh words every day. The important thing for me is to keep up my overall momentum, and that includes revising, submitting, and critiques.

  2. I am trying to keep to a schedule of spending a certain amount of time on my writing. This may include notemaking, editing or writing. I did try a word target, but I was rambling on in the full knowledge that a lot of editing would follow.
    I agree with Beth C. that it is more important to keep up momentum.
    I'll let you know how it goes.

  3. Yes and no.

    If i'm doing a full day of novel writing i have a minimum word target i aim at (whether i get it or not is a whole other story).

    If i'm working on short fiction i tend to set time targets rather than word targets, as i write shorts quite differently to novels. If i can spend an hour on a short story in one sitting, then i'll be happy :)

  4. Thanks, everyone. Some interesting approaches there. Seems like rigid word targets can be useful, but they're not always ideal.

  5. I change my targets from time to time. I currently using a time spent writing target. And in my case that counts new works, editing, and actually reading the research too. But it excludes subbing, researching markets, networking, doing craft stuff.

  6. It ebbs and flows for me, but when I'm in the middle of a project, 1K a day is my target. Do I always reach it? Heck no.

  7. It really depends what I'm working on. A first draft (novel or short) will have a minimum words per writing session I get. I know what I can do in an hour and when I'm screwing around. Revisions are a little different. I can't measure my method of study and analysis of a story. The revision end is nearly as complicated - if I'm fixing the story based on my redlined document, then I can try for three pages an hour, but only if I go according to plan. If something else hits me, I stop and see how it effects everything.

    Writing really is a complicated process!