Word-count Expectations

What do you owe your massive word counts to?

There are those legendary days when the words gush out of you like a healthy river. Ever wondered how the current gains it’s velocity?

I don’t know how it is for you, but I’ve pinpointed the glaciers that feed my river.


Planning

I used to be one of those on spec writers. Planning was something I absolutely abhorred. They took away from the fun of unraveling the story as I went. I’d be tied down to sticking to a set of rules and fixed incidents. No plot twists to surprise me around the corner. No this, no that… Basically, it just felt like being caged. Especially because I was writing things that were less than 1000 words, and I didn’t need to note down what I wanted to write before I got to writing it. Those were allowed to have first draft mistakes, and all first drafts are shitty, and I wasn’t used to getting time to fix it up anyway.

But now that I’ve committed to writing bigger stories with more than just one emotion/scene to portray, I’ve realized and jotting down the plot points helps me picture the scene faster, thereby get the words out faster and with more clarity. I don’t have to waste time wondering whether it would be in character or our of character for my MC to say a particular thing, or if it was terribly unimportant to include her cell-phone beeping.

Of course, I still write what I feel like, but it’s a lot more organized, and doesn’t have to look first-draft shitty when it goes out into the world.

Lots of exposure to opinions

I used to be under the impression that if I talked to somewhat about the plot of a story I wanted to write I would no longer want to write it.

Whew, that was a long one.

Anyway, I was afraid to talk about it. Maybe they’d think I was too presumptuous, or come on, that’s something to write about? I’ve had the chance to re-evaluate since. Hearing what people think of a certain situation can help a lot, because sometimes I get so lost in thinking in my writer’s hat that I forget what it’s like to be a reader. Even when I don’t have plans to show a story to people, at least I know not to assume everyone knows what’s going on.

Character sketch

Before, I’d build a character’s past as I went along. Okay, maybe not completely. But I usually just had a minor portion of the character figured out, and try to get in their boots as I wrote along. I’d build their characters and backstories as the draft progressed, with no idea of where anything was headed. This ties in with the first point a lot.

I’m not saying writing in those days was any less fun, but now that I’ve given it a try, having all the characters and their back stories figured out before I start on the big task, it definitely get’s more words out.

Reading

I put this in last, but it’s definitely not the least. It’s the most important part of being a writer.

My brother looked at me incredulously one day when I told him I wanted to write a horror novel. Everyone knows I’m a douche. I cannot watch a horror movie and not get paranoid, so I never made an effort to explore the genre beyond the few Hollywood movies the watched when I was a kid. This is what he said:

You can’t output something you don’t input the ingredients for.

Granted I’ve read some stuff on r/nosleep since. Pretty creepy stuff too. Can’t say I can write horror now, but what he said really stuck with me.

As a writer, the only way to make quality content is to see how others make it. Much like a baby learns to talk by listening to people talk, a writer learns to write by reading others’ writing. Eventually, it helps us achieve that constant flow, and if we have a flow, we have bliss.


Of course, there are still days when I can barely get any words written at all. Those are the bad days, when I have to sit and ponder what I want to write, and sometimes it feels like there’s fog in front of my imagination, and I can’t see anything.

But those days eventually pass, and I have my fair share of good days as well.

What helps you get words on paper? Do any of the above resonate with you?

5 thoughts on “Word-count Expectations”

  1. My posts are not amazing stories like yours, but I plan them out using a spider diagram, adding points and deciding an order before writing. I cross off points as I have made them and make sure I write links in the plan so that elements that fit together end up in the same paragraph. I agree with needing to read in order to write, in the same way that as a teacher I needed a life outside of school to feed my lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

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