On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

You can do it! Wordcount – again. And again.

In these days before deadline (when one book gets behind it’s hard to keep up with others down the line) I can barely face sitting down at the computer. I have a goal of 10 pages a night – 4 hours after work and that’s bad. The goal is too large. When a goal is too large we will do almost anything to avoid it because meeting it is nearly impossible.

So put goals within your reach – my standard is about 3 ½ pages an evening. I feel comfortable with that (10 on my off days).

OTOH, when you MUST, you can do it. A couple of the past weeks, I sat down, telling myself I couldn’t make the 10, but I could surely do 5 (when I didn’t want to do any at all), or at least 3…

Both times I made over my 2500 words. If you start writing, the muse will come and if the muse comes, she graces you with words.

I also check my word count far too often (I have a button on my toolbar), 500, 610, 763, 1067, 1201…not good. Hey, I’m telling you my faults so you can AVOID them.

One Tuesday night last month I didn’t want to write, put my butt in the chair late, was interrupted to go and get my galleys from my friend who line edits for me, and came back and sat down again. Finally, finally, I got into the groove and the scene went well. A touchy scene I didn’t think I knew how to write – Winterberry getting information from someone without being obvious. Still don’t know if I pulled it off, will have to wait for my mentor to read it to find out. The scene, and a bit I added to an earlier chapter, made my word count 2273. Well, 2273 is NOT 2500. Surely I could do less than 200 more words?

I glanced at the scene. Tidied it up, which meant cutting.. IN NO WAY ARE YOU ALLOWED TO PAD YOUR SCENES TO MAKE AN ARBITRARY WORD COUNT. NOT ACCEPTABLE.

So what to do? I let the muse help me. I started another scene (which is THE best time to end a writing session) and got caught up. It was short, and I even finished it. Final total 2637.

And it didn’t take 4 hours. It was 3 ¾ INCLUDING the time I went to my friend’s (she’s close) talked with her about Sorceress, and picked up the pages, went and got gas. Writing daily also means (usually) writing faster…or maybe I’m just far enough into the book to know my characters and how they’d react and the bits of the plot line I should be working on. Yup, worked in sequence, too.


Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

You think you've got problems? My version of Word automatically lists the word count next to the page count in the margin at the bottom of the screen. Constant counting. Gak.
I've been known to cover up the bottom of the screen with a post-it note while typing.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Robin Caroll said...

LOL.....I don't check my word count until I finish the chapter and only so I can put it in my scene index chart!

Thanks for sharing!

6:45 PM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

OOOoooh, Diana! You can't turn it off? That would drive me crazy. I use WordPerfect.

Robin, you very STRONG person, you...

9:00 PM  
Blogger Jeri said...

I go by pages rather than word count. It's a little less precise, but counting words would drive me crazy. I figure out what date I want to be finished by, then use a monthly calendar template in Word and type in what page number I want to be up to by the end of that day. When that day's pages are complete, I highlight the box for that day. It makes me feel like I've accomplished something to see all these days highlighted. Also, I can very quickly see how many days behind I am. :-)

4:06 PM  

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