Confessions of a Writer: Word Goals Give Me Hives

by Brandi Ziegler

“When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘One word at a time’.”

~ Stephen King

I don’t know the word count of my WIP until the first draft is completed.

There. I said it.

I am so impressed by writers who set daily word count goals.

That shiz would drive me crazy. Too much pressure. Too much disappointment/self-loathing if I don’t reach it. Too much expectation for next time if I overachieve.

So what do I do then? I have daily scene goals.

I know how long my MS should end up to be an acceptable YA length (around 300 pages). I turn my word counter off and just write. My goal is a scene a day. Lately, I’ve been outlining my WIPs chapter by chapter, scene by scene. My last two MSS were about sixty scenes each. My scenes average five to ten pages.

I peruse my outline and pick a scene (Bam! Forget word counts or writing in order). I do this the night before after completing a previous scene. That way I daydream about it all day the next day and have an idea of what I want to write that night. Then I sit down and write. One scene at a time. Sometimes my scenes are four pages. Sometimes they’re eleven. Some days I write two or three because they flow into each other. As long as I write one a day, my draft is complete in about two months. Usually November is my jam and I write like mad, vibing off the NaNoWriMo folks, but I had a newborn in November.

February is my new November this time around. I’m eager to see where I’m at in April.

I know this might not work when I have deadlines and editors and all that amazingness, but it works for now and I can create in peace without any word count pressure. Not that I’m always at peace with my work, but that’s another Confession post.

How about you? Are you a word goal oriented writer? What keeps you motivated?

Happy writing!