Benefits of Measuring Word Count

For some time I only measured my word count when writing a piece of a specific length, or taking part in a challenge such as National Novel Writing Month or Book-in-a-Week. Recently I have begun to explore how measuring word count on a day-to-day basis encourages me to write more and better.

Measuring Word Count

There are many benefits to being able to track what you are writing and when, but here are the three which have proved most significant to me.

Motivation

I am not always a very visual person but when taking part in National Novel Writing Month I fell in love with the “progress bar”, a clever widget which shows your completed word count as a proportion of your target. Since then I have discovered an Android app called Writeometer which provides a similar function for the other eleven months of the year. The fun of watching the bar gradually approach the target encourages me to sit down and add a few more words on days when I might otherwise have set my writing aside altogether.

Time Management

Setting targets and breaking them down into a daily word count goal makes it much easier to know early on when you need to adjust your targets, or your strategies for meeting them. Again, I have found Writeometer very helpful for managing complete projects in this way, but I also use the excellent Write or Die desktop edition to track my word count across several writing sessions within a day. Using both together recently helped me complete a novella in just under two weeks, which was a record for me.

Knowing What Works

Time management is not always just about fitting everything in. If you record not only your writing goals and completed word count, but also some details of your writing sessions, such as where you worked and how long you wrote for at a stretch, it becomes easier to see what habits are contributing to your successes, and which are keeping you from peak performance.

Rachel Aarons has an excellent post about how she increased her word count from 2,000 to up to 10,000 a day using simple techniques which included monitoring word count. Her results, and mine, certainly suggest that measuring your output is an important part of writing more and better.

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Topic Links
* Get the Writometer from Guavabot.
* Learn more about Write or Die.
* Read Rachel Aarons post on increasing your word count.

About Stephanie Cage

Stephanie Cage is a British romance writer with books published by The Wild Rose Press and Crimson Romance. She loves dance and musical theatre, and her first full-length novel, Perfect Partners, has a dancing theme. Learn more from her contributor page.

The Ideal Reader

Do you have an ideal reader? You know the one reader that you think about as you are sculpting your prose; that reader who is sitting on your shoulder as you look for the proper way to turn a phrase, or escalate a series of events? This idea has come and gone throughout my writing career, though not an idea that has necessarily stuck per se; however, it has once again presented itself in discussions I have had with other writers recently.

A future ideal reader to consider.

The thought is that with an ideal reader you are able to really push your prose to somewhere it might not go otherwise. I sort of think of it like going to the gym. When you are at home and you are doing a workout video or running on your treadmill, you can take a break if you need to. The lady on the television is telling you to bring your knees up to your chest, but you are tired, do not want to… and no one is looking. As a result, you do not bring those knees up, lifting more in the vicinity of your thighs, or maybe just turning the television off all together.

But, at the gym, when in one of those classes with all those other people, it is a different story. At the YMCA I used to take my son to they had a kickboxing class that was in the open gym area, where the basketball hoops are located. This area is two stories, with a balcony like area surrounding the top half. That second story area is where the classrooms are located, so after singing ring-around-the-rosy a couple million times, my son and I would pause to look over the balcony at these rows and rows of people doing kickboxing.

Most of them were trying really, really hard. Even the ones that looked like they were struggling, looked like they were giving it their all. The reasoning is simple enough: people were watching them. Having people watch you is a wonderful motivator.

Apparently, the ideal reader is supposed to work somewhat similarly. By imagining that we are writing for a specific person, it brings our writing from the privacy of our home and out into the public, from the very beginning. Of course, editing and all that does it later, but the ideal reader allows a small space of awareness before we even get to the point of editing.

In previous conversations, people have told me that they use their spouse (I believe Stephen King does this with his Tabitha), or their best friend, and some even use famous authors. I thought about the famous writer aspect, trying to discern what famous author I would use as an ideal reader and came up lacking. Mostly, this is because my favorite authors are people like Virginia Woolf, or Cormac McCarthy… and I can just see the disdain on their face as they read over my prose. Brilliance is the name of their game; me, not so much.

Then someone suggested I look at it a bit differently, and instead of thinking of a famous person, or even someone I know, just think of the ideal reader as a more discerning version of myself. Write a book that I would want to read. I have heard that advice before, but never really thought about it in terms of an ideal reader. In the ocean that is the writing life, however, sometimes it is enough to get a bit of direction, and I liked this idea of writing to myself, with a few added tweaks.

The end result: a reader that likes science fiction with a bit of romantic angst, big questions broken into characterization, and simplicity of prose. In other words, my ideal reader is a version of me, and a version of Madeleine L’Engle. I am okay with this, and though I do not know if it will actually help my writing, I plan to use it.

The Exercises

If this is something that strikes you as being beneficial, I urge you to try it with your own writing. As stated, the ideal reader can be a spouse, significant other, best friend, child, or a famous person. Or, perhaps, your ideal reader is a version of yourself.

In order to get a good grasp on your ideal reader, to make them real in other words, write out a profile. What do they like? Not like? What would they expect of you? Boil it down into one sentence and write it out on a post it note. Now put that note where you can find it. A gentle, but constant reminder that you are writing for someone, not just to the void of the Universe.

The void of the universe brings me to another thought, a quote that I just remembered from Kurt Vonnegut:

"Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia." Kurt Vonnegut Quote about the ideal reader concept.

Happy writing!

About Heidi Hood

Heidi Hood, former journalist, is now a full time mom and part time novelist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more from her contributor page.

The Delusion of Getting Paid

Aspiring writers know the sad truth about the publishing industry — the pay is lousy. If we should ever get lucky enough to be published, there is a strong chance that we will not be able to quit our day job. The delusion of getting paid like a premier author runs rampant.

Writers have the delusion of getting paid like J.K. Rowling and James Patterson.

The profession is tricky. We have to do more than just write in order to get paid, we have to get published, and we have to market ourselves and our book. And even then, do not hand in your notice just yet.

There are people out there who labor under the delusion that writing is a lucrative career (mainly non-writers but writers too). Financial independence is for the select few. A recent article in the UK’s The Guardian heralded more gloom causing even the most hardened among us to put down our pens.

We can write to our heart’s content but unless we are published, we are not going to see any real money. In the majority of traditional jobs, we go to work, put in the time and draw down a wage every two weeks. In writing, we could write for years and not see a cent.

Despite all of this, millions of people worldwide (myself included) sit down every day with our pen and paper (or laptop) and write our hearts out, even though we know that there is no guarantee that we will get paid for it. I assume, that most writers, like myself, write because there is always a story to be told and it makes us happy. Any money that comes from it, is icing on an already delicious cake.

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

Putting Emotion into Your Writing

When I think of emotion my mind immediately goes to visual cues. Recreating visual cues into words can be hard for new and experienced writers and like any writing it takes practice. I wanted to see how different writers tackle emotion in their writing so I asked Book-in-a-Week’s four contributors to share their perspective on emotion and putting emotion into their writing.

Putting emotion into your writing.

Stephanie Cage – Write from the Heart

I love writing about emotion because characters come to life so much more when we see how they feel about the events of the story. A character’s emotions are what make a story matter to me as a reader, because when I share their feelings, I start to care about what happens to them.

The challenge as a writer is to make the reader feel the hero or heroine’s pain, rather than just saying, “he/she was sad”. The best advice I have had about putting across emotion came from Leanne Morgena, who edited my short romance The Santa Next Door for The Wild Rose Press. She suggested using body movements, rather than statements or dialogue tags, to convey emotion. Sometimes it can take a while to figure out what action a person takes when they are happy/sad/scared, but once you see them bouncing with joy, brushing away tears, or cowering in a corner, their emotions feel so much more real.

Sakinah Hofler – Doing the Write Thing

I first learned the importance of infusing emotions into characters when I took acting classes at the New Jersey School of Performing Arts. Our initial courses did not focus on plays or manuscripts, they focused on tapping into a moment in our lives when we felt a true emotion (happiness, sadness, depression, pain, ecstasy, etc.). Once we learned how to embody those moments, we learned how to transfer that emotion into a character.

The lessons I learned from acting transferred into my writing. In acting, if you are pretending to feel an emotion, your audience can tell and they see you as pretending. It is the same with writing. In order for my reader to believe in my characters, in my story, I must first infuse my characters with real emotions. If my character is depressed, I take myself back to the time when I felt utterly alone in the world and explore that moment. How did I feel? How did my body react? Once I feel that emotion within myself, I transfer it to the character I am working on. I allow myself to become swept in the moment, overwhelmed in the moment and when the moment becomes real for my character, I write.

I believe Robert Frost when he said: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Heidi Hood – The Constant Writer

When writing an emotional scene my number one rule is limit the reader’s emotional information. Using location, voice, facial expression, the emotional context of the scene is easily portrayed, but there is no need for melodrama or an over the top “telling” or “showing” of what the character is experiencing.

Going back to the idea of a disconnect between the writer and reader, there is a space between what the writer wants to impart and what the reader actually picks up. There is a lot going on in that space; different experiences, different belief systems, different attitudes towards specific emotions. My thought, then, is to allow the reader to color in the depth of emotion.

The writer depicts a specific emotion — happiness, sadness, grief, joy — but on a surface level, giving the reader the ability to expand the emotional resonance, essentially “filling” up the emotional well. Step back during those heavy, angsty scenes, and detach from the character’s thoughts. Readers are smart, so trust them. It only takes the gentlest of nudges for them to experience the full spectrum of what you are trying to portray.

Michele Brouder – The Transplanted Writer

By my very nature, I am a highly emotional person. I laugh a lot and loudly and the same goes for crying. When I read I want to connect to the story and the characters in an intimate way: namely feelings and emotions. Emotions that evoke strong feelings in me serve as a sort of glue to connect me to the story. The best books I have read are the books that had me laughing out loud, raising my fist in anger or have reduced me to tears. Or all of the above.

I do not think you can write about emotions unless you have felt them. All people have emotions but not all people feel them. They need to be felt and experienced, no matter how uncomfortable they make you feel. As a writer, this serves me well. When I need to draw from the well to illustrate my character, emotion is what makes a 2D character into a multi-dimensional person. Sometimes it is difficult. But when I reread a section and I laugh out loud or cry, then I know that I have nailed it.

And there you have four different insights on dealing with emotion in writing. How do you put the emotions you want into your writing?

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Establishing Boundaries

Establishing Boundaries During Writing Hours

Everything is all set: laptop booted up, pen and paper at hand and a cup of coffee that is still hot. You have been waiting for this “free” time to get all those words out of your head and onto the paper. With hands poised above the keyboard, you take a deep breath… And the doorbell rings. It’s your neighbor, who saw your car in the driveway and stopped for a quick cuppa and a chat. You really like this neighbor but right now you don’t. You start to say that you are writing, but you feel it sounds superfluous and arrogant, change your mind and throw open the door and put the kettle on.

It is important to stick to your guns when establishing boundaries for others.

Whether it is the doorbell, the phone, or a kid tugging at your sleeve, when you do find the courage to say it is not a good time as you are in the middle of writing. They look at you blankly for a millisecond then carry on, ignoring you. It is worse if you are not published as then friends and family view it as sort of a hobby, something you can do anytime, or in your spare time.

How do you get all your writing done without interruption?

First, set a writing routine and live by it. Let everyone far and wide know that you write between the hours of 9 a.m. to noon (or whatever your chosen time is) and are not available to do anything else. This requires a little bravery as you have to admit to family and friends that you write and you spend your free time doing it. And you are serious about it. The more you do it and tell people, the easier it becomes.

To establish boundaries, start with your immediate household and let them know that under no circumstances are you to be interrupted while writing. The only exception being hospitalization or death. Then go global. Tell your extended family, friends and co-workers that you will not be responding to phone calls, emails or texts during this time.

Be firm but kind. And if that does not work, ignore it. It may come to that especially if you have a pesky relative who is not to be denied. Do not answer that bell, phone, or whatever. Let it ring, chime or beep away (or better yet, take the phone off the hook).

I had a family member who napped between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and if you called him on the phone during his nap, you incurred his wrath. Decades later, we still know not to call at this time. Way back when, he established his boundary, the consequences were consistent and clear and to this day, no one calls him in the afternoon. So he naps, uninterrupted.

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

Avoiding a Mary Sue Character

Do you know the term “Mary Sue?” I am sure most of you have at least heard this term in passing, but just in case, the Mary Sue character is an idealized, almost entirely perfect main character.

Mary Sue is a character that is just about perfect in every way.

The Mary Sue character originated in a Star Trek parody by Paula Smith in 1973. It was shortly thereafter defined as “the adventures of the youngest and smartest ever person to graduate from the academy and ever get a commission at such a tender age. Usually characterized by unprecedented skill in everything from art to zoology, including karate and arm-wrestling. This character can also be found burrowing her way into the good graces/heart/mind of one of the Big Three,” meaning, Spock, Kirk, or McCoy.

The idea is associated with the author surrogate technique; a literary technique in which a character expresses the ideas, questions, personality, and morality of the author; but it goes beyond the author surrogate idea, wandering into the realm of no personality and a complete lack of complexity. And it is not just female characters, as male characters can also fall into this realm of unbelievability, though they are not quite as criticized as their female counterpart; James Bond and Indiana Jones anyone?

Whether male or female, the Mary Sue/Marty Stu idea (from now on the MS phenomenon) takes away from the fundamentals of good writing.

Lazy Writing

As a student of literature, I spent years psychoanalyzing the reason behind character actions, writing papers as if the novel/poem/short story character was a real person with real psychological issues. There is plenty of tongue-in-cheek references to this idea that English students analyze stories much more than what the author originally thought, which is likely true most of the time, but the study of literature is the study of humanity. We might analyze a piece of writing to death, looking for the hidden meaning because there really are truths hidden in the depths, even if the author did not intend that to be the case.

You see, characters are reflections of the author’s world, even if the author does not intend for them to fulfill that role. Without meaning to, we write what we know even if we are writing in an entirely imaginative space. We cannot help translating our lives into the world of our stories, and as such, students of literature are able to delve into times and places they might not otherwise be able.

It is the brilliance of literature.

That being said, this way of studying humanity is valid unless one comes across a MS character, which happens on occasion. A MS character, in its truest form, will detract and can severely lessen a piece of writing. Some of my peers argue that even MS characters have something to tell us about society (very interesting example of MS characters in 1500 century monastic literature and how that reflects idealistic God traits), but overwhelmingly MS characters are a mark of lazy writing.

Too harsh? Perhaps, but that is my take on the technique.

How to Avoid the Mary Sue

As writers, then, how do we avoid writing an MS character?  Many of you might know the answer already: create flawed characters. But one must be cautious here. I have experience in this as I have been known to create female characters that are a little too complex, a little too flawed in an attempt to avoid the MS phenomenon.

To avoid either extremes this is what I have developed through the years:

  1. Base your characters on real people. I know! This is not supposed to happen, we have all read the statements at the beginning of books that states that all characters are fictional, but there is no better way to create reality then base your characters on real people. Mix it up, as to not identify a character too much with a real person, the idea being to study humanity around you. Study the traits of your significant other, your child, your mother and father, or your cousin. What does your best friend do when he/she meets someone they do not like? What is the reaction of your co-worker when they are given a promotion or are fired? Study the complexity of life so you can, in turn, write about it.
  2. Study historical figures. One of the hardest things for me to do is create realistic villains. We have countless examples of superhero bad guys, with all of their lack of complexity; however, real life villains are a gold mine of interesting traits. Pick someone like Hitler, a bad guy if there ever was one, and then study his mindset. Why did he do what he did? What were his reasons? The wonderful thing about living in a postmodern age is that there are scholars writing about these type things. Find out the complexity of historical characters and use them in your own writing.
  3. Write the character’s stories out. Take your character out of the story and write him/her as they were when they were a child. Make it a complete story, as if you were writing for publication with all the nuances and attention to detail that you would give to a regular piece. I tend to sketch out my character’s lives, but I rarely want to take the time to write a complex back story; though when I do, the character is so much richer and believable. And, who knows, maybe those back stories will one day sell.

Still a Place for Mary Sue

Of course, as with all things, there can be a time and place for MS characters. I have read beautifully done parodies in which the MS characters are used to great effect, and if you are talented enough to do this kind of writing, do it! I am, sadly, not that talented in the area of parody so I must be aware of the MS characters in my writing, as is likely the case for most writers. Awareness is key. Be aware of your characters and how they fit into your story. Don’t do lazy; color in the characters, breathe life into them, and your writing will immediately elevate to another level.

What about you? Do you like using MS characters for fun? How do you avoid falling into the MS traps? Do you find your characters are reflections of you, or those around you?

About Heidi Hood

Heidi Hood, former journalist, is now a full time mom and part time novelist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more from her contributor page.

How to Prepare for a Writing Conference

It is conference season again and hopefully you were persuaded by my previous article, 7 Reasons to Attend Writing Conferences, that attending a writing conference is a great experience for any writer. But how do you make the most of a writing conference when there are so many choices about how to spend your time?

How to Prepare for a Conference

Set goals

At a good conference, the sheer volume of people, talks and opportunities can be overwhelming. One way to help make the most of a writing conference is to be very clear what you are aiming to achieve from your participation. That may seem obvious, but it will be different for each person at each stage in their career. When you are starting out, the best way to make the most of a writing conference is probably to learn all you can about improving your craft. Later you may be aiming to network, perhaps to meet agents or editors, or to find peers who will help with beta reading your work or sharing industry knowledge.

Choose carefully

Once you know what you want to achieve, highlight the sessions and events which are key to reaching your goal. Choose craft sessions if your aim is to improve your technique; industry talks or networking events if your goal is to make connections and learn more about the wider writing world. These are the events you cannot afford to miss if you are to make the most of the conference.

With these in place, you can now pick from the remaining events according to personal preference. Which are you keen to attend, and which could you afford to miss if you need to catch up on some sleep, writing time, or informal networking?

Be Flexible

This will give you a general plan for making the most of your time, but do not forget that to truly make the most of a writing conference, you will need a bit of flexibility too. You never know when someone will drop out of a one-to-one appointment with an editor and you will have an opportunity to pitch your new book, or when you will find yourself sitting next to a much-admired author and able to ask them some of the questions you have always wondered about.

Be Prepared

Even if you are not planning to pitch, it is worth preparing a quick summary of your story, and a few interesting questions to ask other writers and industry professionals. Read the speakers’ biographies in advance so you have an idea of their areas of expertise for discussion, and if the organization arranging the conference has a website, check its news page so that you are aware of what topics are current.

Get inspired

With these tips in mind, you should find it easier to relax and enjoy the experience. Above all, the best way to make the most of a writing conference is to allow it to inspire and re-energize your writing. If you get this right, the time and money you spend on attending one conference will continue to serve you throughout the remainder of your writing year.

About Stephanie Cage

Stephanie Cage is a British romance writer with books published by The Wild Rose Press and Crimson Romance. She loves dance and musical theatre, and her first full-length novel, Perfect Partners, has a dancing theme. Learn more from her contributor page.

The Improv Lesson of “Yes, And”

A couple of years ago, I signed up for an improvisational theatre class. At the time, I spoke very quickly, fumbled over words, and often experienced deer-in-the-headlight moments. I figured improv would help me think more quickly on my feet and also help bring the spontaneity back into my life that had been long drowned out by the 9 to 5 work schedule. What I learned from that class had more of an impact on my writing than my speaking.

The Improv lesson of You, And as it applies to writing.My first class, which had about nine students in it, involved fun introductions, trust exercises, and the lesson of “Yes, And.” What exactly was “Yes, And?” It was the teacher turning to me and saying, “You are a post office worker trying to buy salt on the moon. Go.” The logical part of my brain was tempted to point out that we were in a studio not the moon and to question why a post officer worker needed salt. The “Yes, And” was to accept those conflicting ideas and create a fantastic scene built off that acceptance. We worked with partners and built scenes based off taking an idea our partner had and building off that idea. “Yes, And” basically means “I accept this and I will add to it with this, this, and this.”

I wound up studying improv for a while before auditioning (and receiving acceptance) into the improv troupe. Along the way, I learned lessons on characters, building scenes, and yes, speaking. However, it was the “Yes, And” lesson that helped me the most with my creativity.

It taught me that the illogical and irrational can sometimes come together to create funny, unique pieces. It also made me wonder: What if the writer that thought of the dead returning to life or the director that imagined someone being stuck in the dream or even Dr. Seuss listened to the rational side of them all of the time and negated their wild ideas?

Sometimes we get writing ideas out of the blue and, sadly, we sometimes dismiss them. Next time you get an idea that’s wild, that seems improbable, that makes you shake your head at your own audaciousness for the idea… do not deny it. Instead, simply say, “Yes, and” continue to create your story.

About Sakinah Hofler

Sakinah Hofler is a writer of fiction, screenplays, and poetry. She is an MFA candidate at Florida State University where she serves as the Assistant Online Editor for the Southeast Review. Her work has appeared in Euonia Review and Counterexample Poetics. Learn more from her contributor page.

So You Think You Can Write

When I was offered a contract last year by Harlequin, I was not only excited but relieved as well. I believed that my writing had finally reached the point where it was publishable. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening!

So you think you can write? Just wait until your editor gets a hold of your manuscript!I was assigned to an editor and I quickly learned that my book still was not publishable, but it was salvageable. First there was the developmental edit which is pretty much what it sounds like: developing further certain points of the story, fixing plot points and tying up loose ends.

Then came the line edit, which has been a humbling experience. When I received my manuscript back from my editor, it was all marked up in red. The manuscript I had worked so hard on for years still needed more work and by the amount of red on the pages, it needed a lot more work.

Initially, I was disheartened. Was my writing really that bad? I struggled with this. Halfway through the line edit I realized a few things: nine times out of ten, my editor’s suggestions and corrections were spot on, which is why she is the editor and I am the writer. Her ideas made the work cleaner and tighter. Sometimes she pointed out the obvious. Sometimes she made great suggestions and sometimes, I disagreed with her.

Although the whole process has been humbling, I know that it will not only make my book better but it will make me a better writer. Writing is a continual process and there is always something new to be learned.

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

Your Daily Word Count

The daily word count is a personal matter, with some authors adhering to actual counts and others taking a time measuring method. I have always used a daily word count (isn’t that what all the books say to do?) but for some authors daily word counts are more of a guideline than a strict goal; whereas other authors see words counts as the motivator that allows them to push the edge.

My Daily Word Count? I can totally do 2000 words a day!For instance, all of you, no doubt, have heard of Stephen King’s daily requirement of 2,000 words. It is one of those infamous pieces of information out there in the writing community:

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words… On some days those ten pages come easily; I’m up and out and doing errands by eleven-thirty in the morning, perky as a rate in liverwurst. More frequently, as I grow older, I find myself eating lunch at my desk and finishing the day’s work around one-thirty in the afternoon. Sometimes, when the words come hard, I’m still fiddling around at teatime. Either way is fine with me, but only under dire circumstances do I allow myself to shut down before I get my 2,000 words.”

Those 2,000 words are a lofty goal, and one that I have pushed myself to adhere to through the years (with myriad rates of success); for others it is more about getting the words just right.

According to legend, James Joyce was happy if he completed two perfect sentences a day on his book Ulysses. For those of you brave enough to tackle the tomb, you know the book is a mammoth undertaking of references in multiple languages with so much depth as to be almost unswimmable. It is a challenging, but ultimately a brilliant book… that Joyce wrote two sentences at a time.

Other authors vary day-to-day, following time schedules rather than word counts. Haruki Murakami gets up super early and works for a good chunk of the day:

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. but to hold to such a repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. physical strength is a necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

In collecting other authors word counts, Margaret Atwood said she writes something like 1,000 to 2,000 words a day by long hand; and rumor has it that Anne Rice writes 5,000 words before calling it quits. Without knowing for sure but by studying their input; Jack London wrote 1,500 words a day and Arthur Conan Doyle did 3,000 words.

And, if you are very interested, you can see Brandon Sanderson actually work in a series of videos, though his daily word count is otherwise unknown.

But what about you? Do you adhere to a strict schedule? A strict number of daily words? Or do you have more of a laid back approach? Also, how do you determine your Book-in-a-Week challenge goals? Are they informed by your daily goals, or are they a little bit extra each month?

Let us know!

About Heidi Hood

Heidi Hood, former journalist, is now a full time mom and part time novelist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more from her contributor page.