Tuesday, 11 October 2011

2,000 words a day

There's no doubt about it, having a daily word count target is motivating. About the only thing that does motivate me. However, there are days like yesterday when it's just not possible for any number of reasons.

I was on a roll on Sunday and managed my 2,000 words, then my son got ill. This involved a trip to A&E on Sunday night and a visit to his GP early yesterday morning. Then Matt decided he felt well enough to go back to school yesterday lunchtime, so another trip into town, as I didn't feel he was up to cycling in. And then, of course, I had to pick him up again, as well as my daughter. Then he had a singing lesson and I had to take him there. After cooking tea for everyone, I then had a hygienist's appointment at the dentist twelve miles away. Oh, and I forgot to mention my run and a few domestic chores thrown in. I did manage a few hundred words, however, which is better than none at all.

Today I have hours stretching ahead of me with no plans or duties until school pick-up time. And what am I doing? Bashing out those 2,000 words? No.... I'm mindlessly browsing the Internet (blogs, Forums etc) and writing this blog. I also have to proofread the next batch of stories for The Yellow Room Issue 7 and read a few competition entries.

Don't get me wrong, I love being busy, but I find adding to the word count a real slog. Is it just me?

I've signed up for this year's NaNoWriMo to practise getting the words down as quickly as possible. I struggle with the concept of quantity over quality. I know the quality comes in the rewriting and editing process (the part I love best) and without the words on the page, editing and rewriting is impossible. However, I still struggle like mad to get a first draft finished. Please tell me I'm not the only one!

12 comments:

Nina said...

I suspect your 2,000 words a day is too high a target and you are getting discouraged at not hitting it. I've always had a 1,200 words a day target, as have quite a few published novelists I talk to. It still means completing quite a long novel in just under six months, and having another 6 for research and re-writing, which would fulfill the most demanding 'one book a year' schedule any writer would be expected to do. But don't read Stephen King's On Writing - he seems to write a great book in 6 weeks, then starts another! Aargh. Actually, I take that back, SK's On Writing is one of the best I've read.

Jo said...

I love On Writing, too, Nina. Thank you for your advice. I don't always get to 2,000, but it's a good target for me, as I'm rushing to finish. The last few thousand words to go.

alisonmay said...

I wrote 2000 wds a day 5 days per week on the 1st draft of my first novel. I always tend to use a word count/amount of work completed target, rather than a number of hours writing. Seems more productive for me. The 2000 wds a day approach got me a 90000 word draft in 9 weeks. The downside was that it was a very very very ropey first draft, which I then spent 18 months (on and off) reworking.
For attempt 2 at writing a novel I'm doing the opposite and actively trying to write slower (more like 1000-1200 per day, and none at all some days) and read through at the end of each writing session making obvious edits and corrections as I go along. There will still be lots of rewriting and editing to do, but I'm hoping the first draft will feel a bit tighter by that approach.
I guess it's a question of finding the balance of quantity vs quality that works for you and keeps you motivated.

Coburg Crafts said...

When I did Nanowrimo, Jo, I counted EVERY word I wrote that had anything to do with writing - so I'd cut and paste this blog entry into my file which had a Miscellaneous section at the end. Cheating? Maybe. But in my book any thoughts and words you have about writing and the process all serve to move you closer to your goal.

Jo said...

I didn't realise you'd done NaNoWriMo, Lesley! 2,000 words is going some and the effort involved in writing a blog should certainly count! I wouldn't call my first draft ropey, but definitely needs work! I do tend to write very quickly, but a lot of work goes on in my head beforehand!

JO said...

I agree that 2000 words a day, with children at home and all the distractions that brings, plus The Yellow Room with work with, is ambitious. It feels a bit like setting yourself up to fail!

Having said that, anyone to tries the Nanowritmo has my utmost respect. I love writing, but would hate to have that sort of urgency hanging over me. The best of luck with it.

Lindsay said...

Good luck with NaNoWriMo - I admire people who take up the challenge. NaNoWriYear would be more my style. Maybe when I retire!

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Maybe lower your targets a little? reaching any kind of target is always uplifting and no one says it has to be a high one... However nanowrimo is certainly going to test you. Good luck with it!

Captain Black said...

For me, daily word targets don't work due to the nature of my timetable. I suspect this is true of many others too, even though they still struggle to reach those targets. Having an effectively unattainable goal is just demoralising, as others here have pointed out.

Instead I try for weekly targets, say 5,000 words. These are much more do-able for me as I have prolific days and not-so-prolific writing days. At least it keeps up my average.

Jo said...

Captain Black, I think you're right. I have productive days, then days when I just can't seem to write anything!

TracyFells said...

Hi Jo, I was interested to hear you are signing up for NaNoWriMo. I was thinking of doing this and aiming for 40,000 of YA novel in November. Was worried about sacrificing quality for quantity but I agree that the quality (and hard work) comes in the editing phase. Previously I've aimed for 600 -1000 words a day, as I usually try to keep writing short fiction as well as the longer novel. So to write first draft in Nov I'm aiming for 2,000 words a day (Mon-Frid, w/e off!). Good luck if you do attempt this.
Tracy

Sally Zigmond said...

2,000 words? Blimey. Don't beat yourself up, Jo. And NaNoWriMo is my idea of Hell. I admire anyone who can do it but I haven't got that type of commitment.

I try and write something every day but whether it's 20 words or 200, I'm reasonably satisfied. Anything is better than none--and I've been there, too.