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Archive for September, 2010

Word Count Quotas vs. Dedicated Writing Time

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Lately, I’ve been testing out two methods of making myself more productive.  I’ve been struggling with ways to help myself succeed and beat my word count each day.

Here’s what I’ve discovered as I’ve been working my current novel-in-progress.

There are two main methods of measuring progress:  word count quotas, and dedicated writing time.

Word count quotas:


  • Easier to plan when your work will be complete
  • Psychological boost when you beat your quota significantly
  • Easy to measure whether you’re on track with your goals
  • Others can measure whether you’ve met your goal for the day–and help urge you on


  • When you’re struggling, it can take a significant amount of time to hit your quota
  • This doesn’t take into account editing/rewriting time
  • Word counts don’t take into account the quality of your writing.  Anyone can write 500 words, but making those 500 words fit into a larger manuscript or article can take much more time.

Dedicated writing time:


  • Fixed time box, so you limit how much time you are required to work
  • If you’re struggling, once the time has finished, you can stop guilt free
  • Allows you room to edit your work, take out scenes, or add in new ones
  • Writing at the same time every day helps you develop writing as a habit


  • Harder to plan when a work will be complete
  • If you’re on a roll, you may not have enough flexibility to continue working beyond your dedicated writing time

My take:

Ultimately, I’ve decided to go with a blend of dedicated writing time and word count quotas, with a slight twist.

I focus on writing scenes instead of purely using word count quotas, and try to dedicate time from 10pm-12am to focus only on writing.  This allows me to avoid the trap of only paying attention to the number of words I write, while still helping myself to continue making progress every day.  Using a scene as a measurement helps me to avoid checking my word count every few minutes, and focus on writing usable prose.

Since switching over to this blended method, I’ve found that I can easily hit my quota of 500 words a day, often doubling that number.  With a little luck and continued dedication, my first draft of this novel will be done in about 2 months.

What do you think?  What has worked for you?  What methods do you use to help yourself make more progress every day?

Networking with Other Writers

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Yesterday, I spent some time at a writing conference–helping determine what opportunities are needed for writers in my area.

The conference included around 35 writers, editors, and other group leads from my area.  While the number might seem small, we filled up the venue–a small store/art center in Zumbrota called Crossings at Carnegie.

The store was full of paintings, knick-knacks, and books.  One painting that particularly caught my eye was of a cow with an almost freakishly-large eye.  It stared at me throughout the entire conference, but it was a friendly gaze.

Any ill feelings about the cow were forgotten as I found myself drawn into conversation after conversation with writer after writer.  For example:

  • One of my former clients of WritAnon’s editing service told me about her current project.  She also mentioned she was looking forward to sending it on to me when she felt it was ready.  It’s a neat feeling to run into someone who’s grateful for your help
  • Several people weren’t aware I was the new leader of the Rochester MN Writing group, so I passed out my email address to interested folks so I can send them information on the group.
  • We talked about how we had so many groups, with no underlying network between them.  The biggest problem that we have, as with any large group, is communicating what’s happening across the entire area.
  • We found there was interest in organizing a read-a-thon (like a telethon) to try to raise money to support the arts in Minnesota.  I’ll be talking with some of my contacts at the local library to see if we can organize this.
  • Several folks told me about various events occurring in the area, and what typically happens at each.  Benefiting from other experiences is a great advantage to networking.
  • I discovered there is a need in our area for authors exploring social media, finding writing jobs online, and marketing themselves as a writer.

One of the things I like most about networking is that you don’t know exactly what you’re going to learn while you’re there.  I met various folks from all areas of life–lots of retirees, a couple of editors, novelists (published and unpublished), and freelancers.  Through the conversations on Saturday, I’ve opened up doors that I can use in the future to find other opportunities.

What opportunities might arise for me?

  • Additional members in WritAnon’s writing forums
  • Writers who use WritAnon’s editing service
  • New members of the local real-world writing group
  • Teaching classes or seminars on writing, social media, or marketing oneself as a writer
  • Creating new opportunities for other writers through events like a read-a-thon

What opportunities have you found through networking?  What opportunities might I be missing?

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