Three Simple Rules to Increase Your Word Count

Do you have trouble sitting down to write?  I do.  I open a blank page, see the word count at zero, and sigh.

I am a lazy writer. I hate sitting down in front of the computer to write fiction. In my experience the process is long, painful, uncertain, and … necessary.

I read once that writers hate writing and love to have written. That’s me in a nutshell. Novels, short stories, blog posts, editing same, you name it, I really do not look forward to doing it.  Love having done it.

However, If you are writer you have to write. No way around it.

So here are my three simple rules for setting digital pen to paper and increasing your word count. They work for me.  Give’ em a try — they may work for you.

Turn off the Internal Editor

This is most difficult rule to follow, because that annoying, perfectionist critic is with you — always. They live in your head have a front row seat as you spill out mangled grammar, mis-spelled words, and what they laughingly call prose.

Ignore it, and here’s how — Tell yourself that once you’ve written a page, you’ll go back do a quick edit, to get rid of the obvious errors. Then — never do it, just keep writing. I have found my internal editor has an amazingly short memory. Spelling errors that were heart-stopping to it a paragraph ago are nothing compared to the horrors being perpetrated on the screen right now.

If you keep telling yourself that after each page, you’ll do a quick edit, your internal critic should be mollified. Of course, you have to remember to actually NEVER do that quick edit — and just keep going.

It also helps to keep in mind:

The first draft of anything is shit.
Ernest Hemmingway

Set Yourself a Time Limit

Set yourself a time limit and make it short.

It dawned on me a while ago that one reason I didn’t like writing was because it was a regular task of indeterminate length. When I finally sat down to write, I had no idea how long I should spend at it, other than a vague feeling that I would know when I had done enough.

I am very task oriented and tasks need to have defined end states. I decided that when I sat down to write I would do so for no more than 15 minutes. When 15 minutes were up I would finish the sentence I was typing and that would be it.

You can get a lot of writing done in 15 minutes if you have turned off your internal editor.

I found my productivity went up significantly because I know that I would only be writing for a defined, short period of time — my task has an end point.

Later I added additional writing “blocks” during the day or evening, but each is only 15 minutes long, and then I’m done.

Others may find that 20 minutes or 60 minutes works for them, but I need the time “blocks” to be short.

Be Consistent

Write to a regular schedule.

This rule nicely “stacks” (to borrow a video game term) with the first rule. If you write only fifteen minutes, but do it every day, at the same time, you’ll see your word count climb ever upward. You need not write every day, but you do need to write to a consistent schedule. This has the added benefit of developing writing as a habit — something that a lot of writers (including me) struggle with.

So there you have three simple rules to follow. Doing so will see your writing productivity increase significantly.  At least mine has.  Yours could too.

Do you have any rules or tricks to increase your word count? Let us know in the comments.

That’s it for this post.  Thanks for reading, and I will see again next time.

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