• Megan DiMaria

Strategies for writers to increase word count

I case you don't know, November is the month for many writers to get a jump on writing a new novel. It's a thing: NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a website that is also a community that helps you to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I've done it, and it's surprisingly doable. Almost everyone I know who has participated has won. They supply tracking tools, community, and encouragement to meet your goals.


However, there are 11 other months that writers write. Many of us have our little tips and tricks to get in word count (Who hasn't written a few pages while waiting for their oil to be changed or for their child to finish an activity?)

I am a member of a writers page on social media, and I asked my friends to share some of the ways they pump up their productivity. Here are the responses:

  • Create a spreadsheet or a chart to track how many words you write. You can even just use a word doc and keep track of the date and number of words written. When you meet your goal, say for every 10,000 words, give yourself a treat.

  • Go to a hotel and write, write, write. Being out of your environment eliminates the temptation to do laundry or any housekeeping task. You don't have anyone to socialize with, and you don't have to make meals. Lots of writers swear by this method.

  • Turn off social media. Don't cheat, just ignore, ignore, ignore social media.

  • Some writers like to use apps like Write or Die. It's a bit too terrorizing for me. According to the site, it "lets users of the application punish themselves if they slow down or stop typing in the application's window. The severity of the punishment depends on the mode the user chooses, which ranges from Gentle to Kamikaze. There's a free web version, or you can buy and download it. If nothing else, it's good for a laugh.

  • Go out to write in a cafe or a library and set a goal. You can't leave until you've reached the goal. Often when you're out of your home, you can concentrate without the distractions of dishes needing to be washed or laundry that has to be folded.

  • Put yourself in a metaphorical box and block out the world. Set a timer for two hours and focus solely on your work. Put up a do-not-disturb sign for your family, if need be.

  • Write with a friend who's devoted to productivity. When you're together and you see that writer in action—writing, writing, writing—it encourages you to do the same.

  • Do word sprints. I like to set a timer for 15 minutes with the goal of writing 250 words. In an hour, you've got 1,000 words! Or you can do five-minute sprints with the goal of 100 words. Another method is to write for five minutes, break, write for 15 minutes, break, write for 30 minutes, break.

  • Find an accountability partner who will check in with you to make sure you're meeting your goals.

Don't punish yourself if you slip up. Encouragement is better than punishment. If you have a low-production day, simply plan on doing better tomorrow.


IMHO, the best method is the one you're most comfortable with. That's what you'll stick with. Write on, friends!

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© 2021 Megan DiMaria