“Write four pages per day to finish four novels per year and get to twenty books in five years. As I said before, indie publishers must write more.” Dean Wesley Smith
Even though I’ve been a professional writer for over twenty-five years (professional meaning earning money selling my words), I view myself on a pretty steep learning curve as an indie author especially when it come to my fiction creative writing. So, besides writing a lot, I read a lot of what other successful indie authors find works for them. I then endeavor to integrate the most important points that resonate with me and how I choose to live my life. For example, word count. Most writers know that if you’re not writing new words on a regular basis, you’re going out of business. Words are important, and so are our word count.
For example, while participating in my first NaNoWriMo contest, I read Rachel Aaron’s excellent article: How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day. One of my primary takeaways from it was the value of tracking my writing so I could better evaluate my progress as well as better determine when I’m most productive. So, I created my Writing Tracker — a simple Excel file that has made the tracking process easy and fun. If you’d like to give it a try, feel free to download it here: Writing Tracker. It’s a simple way to keep track of your word count which I’ve found empowers creative writing.
One of my writing buddies, Joe D’Agnese then recommended Dean Wesley Smith’s excellent blog series, Think Like a Publisher which is where I found this quote that spoke directly to the importance of tracking our word count for our creative writing endeavors:
“Write four pages per day to finish four novels per year and get to twenty books in five years. As I said before, indie publishers must write more.”
And that also made a lot of sense to me. I figured I could write four pages a day which equals about 1,000 words per day. I had already realized from tracking my writing for a couple weeks that I do better when I write every day. I’ve found if I don’t write one day, it’s too easy for me to miss the next day, then the next. Before I know it, four or more days have gone by without any new words having been written.
My Newest Writing Game
So, on December 21st (I know because I checked my Writing Tracker) I created my newest writing game to empower me in my creative writing. The primary object of the game is to write every day for the next 30 days. (After 30 days, I’ll re-evaluate how it’s going and make whatever adjustments I see fit). The rules are simple:
- For it to count, I have to write at least 250 words on my current project — Book 2 of the Zak Bates Eco-Adventure Series. (Dominion Over All is Book 1). If I finish the rough draft of that before the 30 days are up, I’ll go on to writing something else.
- My target goal is to write at least 1,000 words a day and for sure to average at least that many words over the 30 days.
As of this blog post, I just finished my 13th day and have written 15,870 words which gives me a 1,220 words/day average. At this pace, if I continue averaging at least 4 pages per day, at the end of the year I’ll have written 1,460 pages of new material. That could easily be four or more new books. Of course, quantity isn’t all there is to writing. There’s still the process of revising and polishing to create quality writing as well, but it’s hard to revise something until it’s first been written in rough draft form. Writing the rough draft is the critical step to moving your creative writing forward.
What Else I’ve Learned from the Game
Here are some other things I’m learning or relearning from this game:
- “Gamemanship” can be fun and can enhance the creative writing experience.
- There is definitely a place for a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ approach even though, given my last name of Swift, I often bring more of the quick energy of a hare to my life.
- By working on the same story every day, I tend to stay more involved in the story and with the characters, so there’s not the need for as much backtracking.
- The characters also take on more of a life of their own and begin creating fun and interesting twists to the story.
- I’ve also found that it helps to keep the game rules simple, flexible and true to the primary intention for which I’ve created the game. For example, the primary intention of this game was to encourage and empower me to write more, and the ‘rules’ have done that. Setting a fairly low count of 250 words that allows me to count the day gets me writing. While I’ve fallen short of the 1,000 word target on a few days, so far I’ve never not met the 250 count. Once I begin tickling the keys, I tend to keep writing well beyond the 250 words.
So, what will your writing game be for the year? How can you encourage yourself to write more, better and with more passion and fun? Remember, you can often increase your word count by simply beginning to count your words.