Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Building Word Count as a New Years Resolution

When the clock strikes twelve on a new year, its easy to estimate how many words you’ll accomplish for the future. After all, you’re given a full year to accomplish them. However, as days turn into weeks, and weeks into months… the truth slowly becomes obvious. Word count goals are difficult. This last year, 2020, I only barely achieved my word count goal of 400k words. Even so, that was because I added in my regular ranting on top of my produced work. My produced work was actually somewhere in the ballpark of 150k. That can leave an author feeling quite bummed about what was created. If you add into that all the promotions and upkeep you have to accomplish as an author… and it really is a difficult career.

What I’ve learned through New Years resolutions is that you have to strike that balance between ambitious and achievable, with a bit of wiggle room added in. All the while, making the goal something that can be measured. That’s a very tricky balance. The first step to completing that, from a word count perspective, is to understand what you achieve in the past few years. If you can figure out what your natural pace is at, that will help you determine where your future pace needs to go. The next component is to break down that average into specific projects. For example, if you’re average is 150k per year, then perhaps that’s two 75k books? Or perhaps one book and a bunch of other items. The goal here is to connect realistic with ambitious. If an additional 25% boost, say to 180k words per year, means that  you can have three 60k books… that might be a great goal. 

Finally, you need to add in wiggle room. This is where you take the main goal, say 180k, and not specify it to more than one book. That way, if you only achieve one book – but you really do well on articles/small stories – you aren’t frustrated. You still made your goal of 180k words in a year and that’s certainly something to celebrate. Ultimately, the goal of a new years resolution is to provide some long range insight into your habits. By injecting a bit of careful planning, you can come up with a plan that will work well the entire year. Just make sure that you don’t overestimate what can be done. As the saying often goes: people overestimate what can be done in a short time, and underestimate what can be done in a long amount of time. 


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