5 Tips for Increasing Your Daily Word Count
No matter what genre of novel you’re drafting, finishing a manuscript requires writing tens of thousands of words. As a writer, you most likely have a limited amount of time to write and need to arrive at the computer ready to churn out those words. A great way to facilitate that is by setting a daily word count goal to keep you on track.
Of course, writing goals are often easier set than done, but there are things you can do when life—jobs, family obligations, even writer’s block—get in the way of maximizing your writing output. In this post, we’ll offer five tips to increase your daily word count and finish your book in record time.
Set informed word count goals
Setting daily word count goals is a great way to increase and measure your writing progress, but in order to do this effectively you must consider a few factors:
- How many words you estimate your book will be
- How much time you have to write each day, and
- How long you’ve given yourself to finish your manuscript.
After taking all these things into account, you can set an informed daily word count goal that is both achievable and rigorous enough to get you in front of your computer consistently.
What does an effective word count goal look like? Let’s say you have one month left to finish your draft with an estimated 20,000 words to go, according to the average word count of the genre you’re writing. If you write five days a week, then some quick math reveals that you need to write 1,000 words a day in order to finish your book on time. After calculating all this, be sure to ask yourself if it feels like a doable standard to hold yourself to.
If the answer is yes, then there you have it—an informed writing goal! You’ve taken a necessary first step toward increasing your daily word count by giving yourself a measurable goal to keep you on track.
Create momentum with writing sprints
If you want to increase your daily word count, one of the best and most effective ways to do this is by using writing sprints. In a writing sprint, you’ll set a timer for a length of time, and during that time you’ll do nothing but write— and get down as many words as possible before the timer goes off. A writing sprint can be as short as 5 minutes, or as long as 30 minutes (or more!). You can do this on your own with just a timer, or with a few writing buddies.
The benefit of doing writing sprints alongside fellow writers is the energy and momentum you get from being around others working on their projects. In addition to inspiring and fueling your own writing, having writer buddies can help hold you accountable to your goals.
If you are trying to fast draft your novel and make persistent forward momentum, writing sprints are great to help with that. Remember, this stage is for discovering your story, not editing. Setting a timer and having a goal to write as much as possible before the timer goes off forces you to keep moving forward in your novel rather than going back to edit a previous scene.
If possible, try to get at least 2 or more writing sprints in during a writing session. For example, if your writing sessions are usually one hour, try a 15-minute sprint followed by a 5-minute break, then another 15-minute sprint and 5-minute break followed by one last 15-minute sprint and 5-minute break. Doing this can help you get into that creative space where the words flow quickly and easily. You’ll be surprised at how many more words you can write in that third sprint compared to the earlier ones!
Take advantage of any spare time
While none of us can add more hours to our day, it may be possible to add more writing time to our day without changing our schedules. Five minutes waiting in line at the bank, fifteen minutes at the doctor’s office, ten minutes before your work meeting. All these small moments we spend waiting for things to begin add up.
Keep a small notebook and pen, or if you prefer to be digital, your phone or tablet nearby, and when these small moments of spare time occur, try a writing sprint to get even more words written in a short amount of time.
Many of us spend more time scrolling through social media than we’d like to admit. Consider using that time spent scrolling to get more writing done instead. Over time, you’ll notice how these changes and small moments will add up to more words written daily.
Try voice dictation
While most writers can typically type between 50-80 words per minute, the average person can speak between 130-160 words per minute. That’s more than double the words that could be typed out by hand! This makes voice dictation a powerful tool for writers, especially if you want to increase your daily word count. Voice dictation has come a long way since it was first created, and it can now recognize many accents and different voices, allowing for more accuracy in what is typed and fewer mistakes to fix later.
Another benefit of voice dictation is that it forces you to continue making forward momentum. You cannot go back or edit what you've already spoken unless you stop and physically edit the changes with a keyboard. So next time you sit down to write, try using the voice dictation feature of your computer, or even a speech-to-text app, and see how many more words you get in.
Always leave your writing session "in medias res"
Leave your writing “in medias res,” or in the middle of a scene. As long as you’ve met your word count for the day, ending in the middle of a scene or action will make it easier to jump back into writing, helping improve your daily word count because you aren’t struggling to figure out where you will begin.
To put this into action, finish your current writing session in the middle of a scene. Then, use a bulleted list to outline your ideas for your next writing session’s starting point. If you find it hard to tear yourself away from your work in progress, that's a great sign! Channel your excitement to finish the scene into your next writing session, building on your momentum from the previous day.
With these strategies, you'll be increasing your daily word counts in no time! And for more ideas on how to get through your first draft quickly, check out our 3 Tips for Fast Drafting A Novel.