QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Writer Productivity Tip: How To Increase Your Daily Word Count

Today’s post continues with the theme of how each member of the QT blog team keeps (or tries to keep) our writing or writing process/career organized, less stressful, and more effective.

Over the years, I’ve learned to streamline my writing (more so now that I’m a published author with multiple book deals). It used to take me a year to finish writing and editing a book. With my first book (which was never published), I got a tiny bit carried away and spent TEN MONTHS planning it. At that point, I was writing YA fantasy and for some reason felt it was necessary to figure out EVERY TINY DETAIL about my story world. And that included the types of plants that would grow there based on soil type. Did I use any of this information in my novel? Nope. It wasn’t necessary to the story.

Research is another area I’ve learn to rethink. My books often require some research before I can figure out my characterizations. For example, in my first published book (Tell Me When), I dealt with stalking and post traumatic stress disorder. I needed to understand how an eighteen-year-old girl would react to different situations in the book based on what she had endured prior to the story. I had to research these topics first. But while writing my books, I quickly learned that I didn’t need to stop writing every time I had a minor research question. Let me ask you a question. How many of you can go onto the internet and only look up the ONE thing you need to know? How many of you decide that since you’re already online, you might as well quickly peek at your inbox (especially when you’re querying)? How many of you end up then checking out Twitter and Facebook and all your other social media sites instead of returning to your WIP? *puts up hand* Now, I don’t stop to look up those details as I write. I make a note in my manuscript (which is easy to do because I use Scrivener), and go back to look them up once I’ve finished my first draft. And because I use Scrivener, those comments are easy to find. I don’t have to spend time combing through my manuscript to find them.

Another thing I do to increase my daily output is writing sprints. I see how many words I can write in an hour and then take a brief break before continuing with the next bout of sprints. I also write first thing in the morning (5:30 am) and don’t check my inbox until I’ve written for an hour (then I have to get my kids ready for school). I also schedule my writing time so that it gets done. All of these things have helped me increase my productivity.

What helps you increase your writing productivity?

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Sheri Fredricks said...

I'm like you. One second of research can lead to a half dozen random clicks and the next thing I know, I've blown a fifteen minutes of writing time! (that's if I'm lucky) Willpower and determination to not be swept into the time suck is my uphill battle. Knowing this about myself, I wait to open my email until I've reached my minimum word count. It's not easy, LOL.

Connie Keller said...

I schedule my writing time too. It has really increased my word count. (Though I really have to beware the research-just-check-social-media trap.) I'm almost halfway through the first draft of my current WIP and I've only been working on it for 5 weeks.

yvonne said...

You have described exactly my getting caught following internet links exactly.

Sandy Perlic said...

I like the idea of using the notes in Scrivener for tracking those things that aren't finalized in my rough draft. Right now I just put a note right after the text, or put an "x" to hold the place of the missing word(s). Thanks for the great tip!

Christina Mercer said...

Thanks for the giveaway! Research ends up always being a trap for (drawing me into the internet where I will stay for far too long), so I love the idea of just marking those sections in the manuscript and moving along!

Traci Kenworth said...

These are some great tips, Stina!!

Alessa Hinlo said...

The internet is my productivity nemesis. I have to make a concerted effort not to use it if I want to get words down. It's so easy to lose time on email and twitter.

Suzi said...

I'm running into this problem now with the story I'm writing because there's a lot I need to research. And yes, I have to get better at ignoring the urge to click onto my inbox.

Beth Carpenter said...

Yeah, this is all familiar, including research leading to internet distractions. I'll have to try the sprints.

Shanika L. Bynum said...

Nice tip to help me write!

Niki Moss said...

I am easily sidetracked, which can often make me far less productive than I'd like to be. I find that setting small goals along the way and vowing to at least reach that goal before heading down any rabbit holes helps me stay better focused and more productive.