I’m a fan of daily word counts when I’m writing a first draft, but I’ve made a recent change to my technique that’s working really well for me. Usually, I set a count of anywhere from 500 to 1500 new words on my work-in-progress per writing session, depending on how much time I have to write. Now, I’ve changed that to include new words about my work-in-progress.
Here’s an example of what I mean: If I have half a day to write, I might say that I have to write a minimum of 500 new words of my manuscript or 1000 new words about my story. (I always double the number of words that are about my story, since they’re messier and tend to wander.) I’m finding this new technique a useful way to write through blocks and challenges because I’m spending my writing time gaining insights about my story instead of writing a bunch of manuscript words that I’ll probably throw out later. I also find that I’m less distracted during writing sessions because I always have a measurable task to focus on.
What might I write about my story? Character or plot notes. Usually, I’m asking myself questions about the next chapters or scenes I plan to write. What does each character feel during a particular scene? What if [insert new plot idea] happened? How would that play out?
When I get back to writing my actual manuscript, my first-draft words are more targeted, with richer characters and better plot intricacies. For me, it’s a win-win. Maybe this technique will help you finish that first draft?