The Value of Word Count

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If you’ve been following my blog for the past week, you’ll notice I’ve been sharing my daily word counts. A lot of us writers do so just to keep track of how much we wrote in a year. If you have ever participated in NaNoWriMo, you’ve probably stared at your graph showing you how many more words you needed to write to finish a 50k novel in a month.

Also I’ve seen it said that by your first million words you’ll find your voice. I don’t remember who said that or how they said it, but it referred to that 10,000 hours of practice at whatever you pursue to become good at it. You won’t know when you’ve reached that milestone without tracking word count.

Word count is a measure of how long it will take you to complete your projects. Since I started independently publishing my writing in 2012, I’ve got plenty of unfinished manuscripts on my laptop. I’ve got the projects I want to finish this month, and those I’d like to get to later in the year. The ones I’m chasing now stand in the way of all of my other ideas. I see them as what I’ve committed to, but I really really want to start chasing my newer ones too. :/

Dean Wesley Smith wrote a blog article called Pulp Speed. It’s an inspirational article where he talks about increasing his own writing, and sets milestones, called Pulp Speeds, that show what he will accomplish if he writes so many words per day. He shoots for Pulp Speed 6, which would net him 2 million words of writing in a single year. Pulp Speed 1, his lowest, is an impressive 1 million words in a year.

Based on his article, I am at Pulp Speed Two, and on the cusp of reaching Three. I actually tie his article into my excel spreadsheet where I track my word count. I want to reach Pulp Speed 6. He gives examples of how many hours you’d have to write a day if you write 1000 words an hour, and there lies also the value of tracking your word count… pushing to get faster.

I am currently using a timer, and writing in 25 minute bursts. Often I get in only 750 words in that time, averaging about 1500 words an hour. I am pushing toward 2000 an hour. At that speed, I’m happy with the amount of time I spend in a day writing.

So! With all of that said, I take my daily word count and chart what I’m going to do with it based upon my average, to decide what I want/need to accomplish for the month. Pulp Speed 2 gives me 95,000 words to play with this month. 50k of that I’m giving to Hungry Gods 3. 20k is going to one of my pen names, Spilling Blood Episode 11 gets 15k, and then I’m going for 2 short stories of 5 k each. This is the start of week two of January, and I have one short story out of the way, and Spilling Blood ep. 11 almost complete.

That has netted me almost 26,000 words in one week.

That normally would be a fairly full month. But once I start looking at my productivity for the higher Pulp Speeds, it pushes me to add that extra 600 words a day to Reach the next level. I would love to hit 6k a day. We’ll see.

One thing I would like to note is that I cannot apply an entire day to just one project. I find that tiring. I have to spread my writing out at least between two of my books, and often three. That surprisingly helps my mind stay focused on writing, and still meets the same monthly writing goals as though tackling them one by one.

This post is longer than  I anticipated, so to wrap it up, here’s my stats so far:

Word Counts

1/7/16 Word Count: 3,190 (ave. 2,004 wph)

Hungry Gods 3 +1,845. 17,425/60,000

Spilling Blood 11 +1,161. 15,342/15,000

Apocalypse Witch 3 +015,020/20,000

Pen Name Short +184. 5,764/5,000 From editing.

Pen Name Book +0. 4,679/20,000

January Word Count: 25,953

For Year: 25,953

Completed Projects: Short Story.

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2 thoughts on “The Value of Word Count

    • Yes, this frog can be yours! I save animated gifs of writing that I come across while exploring the back alleys of the internet. You can save him as your own. 🙂

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