One of the things I’m asked about most as an editor is: how do I write more on a consistent basis, while working full-time? Whether that’s your specific question, or you simply want to discover how to maximize your word count in general, this is the post for you. The easiest way to increase your word count I’ve found is to come at it from the aesthetic angle, i.e. inspiration.
As I remind authors below, scene planning, enough time to write, and enthusiasm for what you want to write are the triad for beginning to conquer your low word count demons, but inspiration is what gets you in the chair excited to put the effort forth on a regular basis in my experience.
Here are the 10 most effective ways I’ve found to increase your word count:
- Find your inspiration for the book, story, or project and reexperience it.
- Music: Something that inspires you, relaxes you, or simply adds some fun back into your life from fighting your way through high word count production. Music is one of the fastest ways to change your mind and body state.
- Art: Have a nice art break with your favorites, or a category you haven’t experienced before.
- Poetry: I’m not a huge poetry fan, but I think it’s something we should be reading more of considering how shallow most books out there are. Reach out and grab a few poets that you haven’t tried before and drink in their view of life. This always has an interesting influence on my writing, or at least my outlook, when I think back over any work I need to do on a project.
- What Would Your Character Do Day: This clearly is my favorite one. Pick something your favorite character would do and do it. This could also be used for getting to know a character that you may be experiencing some trouble with. I know the character I always pick…and she always gets up to some pretty interesting stuff in her (fictional) spare time, which ends up being a treat for me when I need a break as well.
- Painting/Art/Graffiti, etc., visual expression in general: Sometimes you need a break from words, especially if you’re producing word count to exhaustion everyday. Even if you have no experience, get in there, pick up some paint, and fling it around. If you’re more serious about learning a nice hobby away from writing, I personally recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. She’s an amazing teacher. It’s not nearly so hard to learn to draw as you may think!
- Your favorite hobbies: This is pretty easy. You already have a hobby? Give yourself permission to do it. It’s that simple. Chaining yourself to the millstone of a novel, a huge amount of work, with no fun is not a recipe for success or quick production.
- Fun: Just plain fun and a night or two off. Pick something and escape from your desk for a night. Indulge, and you’ll find yourself more than willing to pick your work back up and start in anew. You’ll find your word count is often higher after a break making up for that time off.
- Writing unrelated to your current project: I’m a cycler by nature; I love to revisit old projects, or take breaks from a main project and develop others. Just make sure you circle back around to that main project. Give yourself permission to create other things, and you’ll find yourself “cycling” through things less frequently.
- Research: Sometimes it’s good to just stop and do research for a day or two to flush out your current project, especially when so much is needed that it requires more time than ten minutes to do it. You need to do it anyway, and it is work on your project, so use it to your advantage and take a mini-break.
Here’s a final suggestion to make your writing more pleasant as you’re doing it: cleaning. Most folks use this as a way to procrastinate, but I’ve found that having a clean writing area or room makes it easier to write in general. If you’re starting to feel drained and lethargic when you sit down at your writing desk, that’s a good clue that you need to give things a good clean, or work an item on the list above.
Don’t forget the triad needed for high word count production: knowledge (of what you’re going to write); time; and enthusiasm. Those three are helping me blow through a novel at a nice rate of speed combined with the steps above.
Need an editor because you’ve acquired “text blindness”? Just can’t look at your book anymore and want to hand it off to a copyeditor? Shoot me and email, and I’ll help you get it ready for publication or agent submission.
This article was edited with CMS.