Discipline,  Organization

Ten Reasons To Count Your Daily Words

You’d think that if I called myself a 10 Minute Novelist that writing in 10-minute increments would be the only way I measured my daily goals. True confession: it is one way, but not the only way. 

I’ve also found that having a daily word count goal is also immensely helpful in keeping me on track. I like to watch my weekly, monthly, and yearly totals build up. And to be honest, I have more time on my hands now that the kids are older. 

Here ten reasons why a daily word count goal is a good path to success.

1. Word count, as opposed to progress in a project, can be distributed over several projects. I have blog posts, poems, short stories, and a novel or two to always work on. My daily word count doesn’t care where the words come from, so if I’m stuck on one project, I can hop to another one without slowing down. 

2. My word count can be met in 10-minute increments. Maybe old habits die hard, but if I’m really on fire, I can write 500 words in 10 minutes. It sure is easy to do the math to tell me what time I have to put in to meet my goals. 

3. A daily word count goal allows for constant forward progress. I like to count my words daily, weekly, and yearly and I find immense satisfaction in meeting them. Every word counts toward the goal, so event the weakest sentence brings me closer to what I want. 

4. Writing anything is practice and we all need more practice. I believe that the most successful authors will be the ones who put in the time; who care enough to practice daily. My daily words are similar to a concert pianist who still plays scales or an Olympian who still runs laps. 

5. I get better and faster. I know that because I write a great many words, I think faster and I recognize errors faster. How can this be a bad thing?

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6. I can enjoy the finish line because I know I’m done for the day. This is a great feeling — it also feels good to be ahead for the week or month. 

7. I can see my progress tracked over time. I mentioned this before, but when I fill in my totals on the spreadsheet, I can look back and enjoy my hard work. Look what I did! This is my #authorhappiness.

8. The more I write, the more I want to write. Because I have an ambitious amount of words to write daily, I’m constantly thinking of what I will write when I finally sit down. My ideas spurn other ideas. I’ve NEVER had so many ideas that have pages and pages of notes with them. This is a great feeling. 

9. My daily word count is an objective measurement of my success. Sigh. In this field, it really is hard to know if you are making any headway. Success is fleeting and our art is subjective. But with a daily word count goal, I have a pass/fail. I need that sometimes.

10. Finally, I am forced to be imaginative or descriptive in order to meet the goal. To be honest, there are some days that the last thing I want to do is get in the final 1000 words. Rarely I leave it undone. Rather I set my timer and force myself to finish. Sometimes during this, I wind up writing imaginative, interesting things. Often by the time I meet the goal, I want to write even more. I love it when that happens.

So consider creating a daily word count goal.  But remember it really doesn’t matter how you track your regular writing time. What matters is that you make a plan, get the writing in, and grow in discipline. 

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.

One Comment

  • Amy Keeley

    Great list, especially the first point. My fear, especially with novels, is that I’ll never get back to them! I overcome that by having a monthly focus/main goal in addition to the word count. Seems to help and I still have a bit of variety. 🙂

    Thank you for posting this!