Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wednesday Writing Tips #8: Underestimate Yourself!

Welcome to this series of writing tips. If you would like to pen a guest post for this series, email me at

How many times have you read advice which encourages you to write 1,000 words a day, every day?  The purpose of this seems logical enough - if you produce a steady flow of words bit by bit your novel or short story collection will be finished.

This standard gem of advice works fine if you have the time to write 1,000 words a day.  Perhaps you sprint past this word-count regularly.  If so, good for you.  However, if you aim for the golden number of 1,000 words but find yourself regularly falling short, this post is for you.

Writing 1,000 words a day might be fine for people who are at home for much of the day.  It might be fine for people who work but whose partners are happy to carry the load while the writer's evenings and weekends are focused solely on writing.  But if you have kids who need taking to and from school and various clubs, a dog which wants its walk, the shopping needs to be done and the housework won't do itself no matter how many times you glower at it, then maybe the 1,000 word goal isn't for you.  And that's perfectly ok.  Especially if you don't want to inspire divorce proceedings.

Fixed word-counts provide a handy goal to aim for, but if you repeatedly fail to hit that desired score your own psychology can work against you.  When repeatedly you tell yourself that a job is too hard or the task is too much, and that once again you've failed to hit the target, you create a barrier in your own mind which grows in accordance with the negative energy you feed it with.

So try underestimating your achievable word-count and, in doing so, get your psychology to work for you. 

Try dropping your word-count right down to 250 words.  Producing a minimum of 250 words a day is easy.  You can fit that in between washing the breakfast dishes and setting off to work.  Or you could do that on the train going to work, or in your lunch break.  You might pen your 250 while your family watch a TV show which doesn't interest you. 

If 250 words flow easily, try raising the word count to 300, 350, 500.  Experiment and see what works for you.   Remember that you can always write far more than your set word count, but give yourself a little cheer each time you hit that modest number.  This way, you embed the feeling that you can readily achieve your goals and in doing so make achieving them more easy.

Try it and see how you get on.

Further Reading:
Wednesday Writing Tips #7:  Develop Your Creative Potential by Gemma Gaten.
Wednesday Writing Tips #6:  The Magic Formula.
Wednesday Writing Tips #5: The Challenge of Blank Space.

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