I've been writing about "counts" a lot--pitch counts, word counts...when I get to "blood counts," cut me off, okay?
A friend of mine, Jessica Park, author of the delightful Gourmet Girl mysteries, posed a question on Facebook a few weeks back. She wanted to know what her fellow authors’ daily word count was. In other words, how many words does each author aspire to write every day? People chimed in with a variety of responses, from “1000words is a great day for me,” to “any amount as long as they’re good.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the drift. My response?
“If it’s the week before deadline, 45,000. Otherwise, 10.”
I’m really hoping my editor, also a Facebook friend, didn’t see that confession.
Due to the fact that I work full time—or maybe because I have Attention Deficit Disorder—I have a very scattershot approach to writing. If the mood strikes, I’ll put everything aside for an hour or two and write away. For instance, I had a great idea for the current work-in-progress last week, and banged out 5000 words, some of them pretty good, the rest just okay. That’s what revision is for. To my mind right now, though, they are there and they are words and they count. Other weeks, I won’t touch the WIP at all, focusing instead on my paying work, for which I have rolling deadlines and obligations that eat up anywhere between eight and twelve hours every day.
My deadline every year for a new Alison Bergeron mystery is New Year’s Eve. Generally, by about October, I have three quarters of a first draft which I mull over between Halloween and December 1st. Then, once December hits, I kick it into high gear and write the rest of the first draft, focusing on revising while trying to Christmas shop, meet work deadlines, and decorate the house for the holidays. All in all, December is a very stressful month. I usually finish the shopping, I always finish the book, and I never decorate the house to my liking.
I wish I was one of those writers who could sit down and bang out a thousand or so words every day, regardless of whether or not they are good words. I find that the more I write, the better I become and the more I want to write. But life—and work—keep intervening and I have a hard time finding a routine that works for me.
There are things I should do in order to establish a writing routine. Let’s ignore them for the time being and focus, instead, on things I won’t do to establish a regular writing routine:
1. Get up at 4 a.m. Some things are just not worth the bother.
2. Stay up until midnight. How would I get my ten hours of beauty sleep with that bed time?
3. Write on the weekends. This will only happen between the dates December 15th and December 31st. (Remember that yearly deadline?)
4. Write during my lunch hour. Lunch hour? What’s that?
5. Write at the local coffee shop to avoid interruptions. That would involve leaving the house. And that’s just not going to happen.
What do you do to establish a writing schedule? And what is your daily word count?