Monday, October 13, 2014

11 Tips to Increase Your Word Count

I've never participated in NaNoWriMo, but I admire those who do. I've visited numerous blogs lately where my friends are debating if they should participate this year or not. Those who are participating are doing some preparation in anticipation of their efforts to write a novel in the month of November. It's a challenging task where many will fail and many will succeed. There is a lot of advice out there to help writers reach their goal. But that advice is solid for all year long not just during NaNoWriMo. Not all these tips may work for you and most of the ideas are oft repeated.

11 Tips To Increase Word Count

1. Prepare an outline, plot points and character profiles before you start writing.

2. Have a routine such as a particular time of day or place to write.

3. Design your writing space for comfort but free of distractions. Cat or dog at feet allowed.

4. Be superstitious and use those rituals. If you're always productive when you drink green tea then have green tea. Need your comfy slippers on, then slips those puppies on.

5. Put some music on that helps you write. Perhaps a play list that fits the story or something without words that calms your muse.

6. Don't discuss your WIP while you're writing it. Keep it to yourself until you have that first draft done.

7. Spew out that imperfect first draft. Quiet your inner editor and keeping pounding the keyboard.

8. Along with that tip, don't delete or throw away anything. That scene that you've decided you hate may not seem so bad when the entire project is complete. You can fix or dump it in the second draft.

9. Stop each writing session in the middle of a scene or sentence where you know what comes next. It gets the next day's writing off to a quick start.

10. Remember to eat right, sleep enough and exercise. Take care of yourself.

11. Reward yourself as you reach your goals. Made the halfway point? Celebrate and move onto the next one.

Few of these ideas are new to experienced writers. I challenge you to add a tip to the list. What works for you to keep your word count high all year long and not just in November? Are any of the above suggestions part of your routine? Any of them that just don't work for you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Any interesting rituals or superstitions you use to maintain your writing pace?

38 comments:

Michelle Wallace said...

I write VERY slow...so I'm not sure if NaNoWriMo is for me.
And I've never managed to stop each writing session in the middle of a scene or sentence where you know what comes next, I just exhaust whatever ideas come to mind...I need to remember and apply that!
Quiet your inner editor? I struggle with it! But I'm practising...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Cat on lap doesn't work so well.

It also helps to warn your spouse. Then they aren't bugging you and will give you the time you need to write.

Theresa Milstein said...

I've never done NaNoWriMo, but your advice is sound to me!

Elise Fallson said...

Great advice Susan, I'll be keeping in mind, I'm hoping to participate in my first NaNo this year, though getting the outline done is proving to be a lot harder than I anticipated.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I love NaNo and plan on participating again this year. I do find stopping mid-scene helps me jump back in during the next writing session. I also like to go back over the last page or so I wrote the session before - not to change anything but to get my head back into the story. :)

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent tips! An outline, set time, and music are all I need.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Michelle, I find my pace varies a lot. Sometimes fast and other times really slow.
L. Diane, I miss my cat trying to sit on my lap and my spouse never listens to the 'leave me alone' time. LOL
Hope something helped you, Theresa.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Oh, good luck, Elise. I'll be cheering you on.
I admire you all for participating, Madeline, especially year after year.
I like to work the same way, Alex but add a few cups of tea.

Rachel Morgan said...

I planned to do NaNo last year, but it just didn't happen! I had finished and published a novel in October, so I guess it turned out I needed a break ;) And this year I'll be editing in November ... So perhaps next year NaNo will happen for me :-) Great tips!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I seem to write few words so it's hard for me to write a complete book.

I REALLY want to finish a NanoWriMo. Tried twice.

Jen Chandler said...

Great tips! I didn't participate last year but I'm gearing up for NaNo this year. It's challenging but worth the effort. The best advice I have been given is to just write! No editing, no over thinking. Have an idea, an outline you feel great about and GO!

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic tips. I've done NaNoWriMo for ten years. One of the tricks is to just keep writing. Even if your protagonist has stopped to shower and sleep, write about it! You can cut out all the needless bits later.

Linda Kay said...

I have a friend who shared with me that she has one of those sand hour glasses that runs for two hours. If her husband see that the sand is still running, he isn't allowed to interrupt her.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Rachel, I'm like you. It never fits my schedule.
Maybe third time is the charm, T.Powell.
Can't wait to hear how you do, Jen.
I knew you were a NaNo champ, Christine, but ten years?
Linda, I love the hour glass idea.

Pat Hatt said...

Great tips indeed, I can't do the music one though as i get distracted and listen to the music.

J.L. Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.L. Campbell said...

The idea of a routine is a good one. Since we're creatures of habit, this is a good one to cultivate.

Lexa Cain said...

Great tips! I think the hardest thing to do is spew out that first draft. Knowing it's awful saps my spirit... Good luck to all NaNo-ers!!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What an excellent list, Susan. I've never participated in NaNo. November has me a bit too lazy for the effort needed. Maybe some day.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love, LOVE, NaNo!! I've done it for years now, but life is just way too chaotic for me to do it this year. Makes me sad.
I love your list, although I've never used an outline - just wish my brain worked that way!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Pat, I would have picked you as a music guy.
I think you're right, JL.
Lexa, I think the good news is that those first drafts aren't usually as bad as we think they are.
Joylene, I'm always busy in November hosting Thanksgiving to the entire family.
Jemi, you have my admiration as does anyone who attempts it.

cleemckenzie said...

Good suggestions. I always make at least three notes about what I have in mind to do next. I add these where I stop writing.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That is an excellent idea, Lee. I need to try that one.

krystal jane said...

Setting aside time is something I always forget. I have everything else in line, so this will be my top priority this year. :)

djinnia said...

i've participated in nano a couple of times. i've never ever tried to do the 50k. i set a personal goal, but i didn't quite make it.

I did finish up last year with about 15k. i did the reutsway project and so i had four different prompts in the four weeks. i'm doing it again this year as well.

great tips. i totally suck at outlining anything, but i may have to incorporate the others.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Good luck, Krystal. Maybe you can find that time you need.
djinnia, I think setting your own goals is a great idea.

Shell Flower said...

This is great advice, especially the part about stopping at a place where it is easy to pick up again. I would also recommend allowing yourself to skip ahead in your story if you feel stuck. Whatever it takes to get those words out. I've done and completed Nano for the last 4 years in a row (though I have used it to finish a novel in 2012, which is technically cheating) but I am not sure I'll do it this year. I haven't even looked at my 2013 novel since then and I plotted and everything!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wow, Shell, four years in a row! I can't even imagine the dedication to that. Excellent advice.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Susan. These are great tips!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Susanne.

Crystal Collier said...

I totally need these tips. I've only NaNo-ed once, and I'm jumping back in this year. *deep breath* I've got deadlines to meet, know what I mean?

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

LOL, Crystal. You are so busy. Extra cheese needed.

Chrys Fey said...

Great tips! I liked #9 because I usually push through until I finish a scene, especially an exciting one, and then the next day I'm not as enthusiastic to continue.

Patricia Lynne said...

Number 9 is one that I've found very helpful. Usually, when I stop for the day, I write a brief summary of the next scene, so I don't forget and don't waste time trying to remember.

Elsie Amata said...

Great words of advice. Especially about carving out time to write. I admire those who participate. I take forever to write. I'd do nothing but get frustrated!

Fundy Blue said...

Great tips, Susan! The title made me laugh because I immediately thought of padding research papers to get to the professor's required word count!

One tip that works for me is to leave my desk set up ready to go exactly where I left off, everything laid out. That includes a sticky note listing my next two or three steps.

You mentioned music ~ I would also add images, maps, or pictures that connect with your story. I have them all over the place.

I would dearly love to drink wine while I was writing, but I would quickly become a souse!

No NaNoWriMo for me! I am a very slow writer and that would sidetrack my current project. But good luck to everyone who is going for it!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan - NaNo offers much to so many .. and I'm sure your words of wisdom make sense to all participants - they do to me and I'm not even likely to sign up .. but I sure can learn.

Cheers to all participating - Hilary

PD Workman said...

I love NaNo. I'm all ready and raring to go!

Of course, I usually do 100,000 words. Because, well, 50,000 just isn't a full book for me. You know.