I admire writers who set and hit their daily word counts. I beat myself up about being a slow writer. My first novel took about three years when I really settled in to write and revise it. (There are also two other novels in a drawer that will probably never see the light of day.) My second mystery took about a year and a half, so my speed is improving. And I've learned a lot along the way.
I'm doing an experiment with my current WIP (work in progress). I set a weekly (weekend) word goal of 4,000 words, and then any other writing I get done during the week is extra. The first draft of this book will be finished in months, not years. Writing every day does make a difference. However, work and life get in the way sometimes. During this project, I've been able to stick to my weekend word counts, and I'm making good progress. (18,000 words to go). I have also been able to keep my momentum in this book. I call my past efforts binge writing. I'd write thousands of words one week, and then nothing for weeks on end. By the time I picked the manuscript up again, I had to refamiliarize myself by rereading chapters.
My excuse was always that I work long hours in IT, and the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was to sit down at my computer. I do try to write every day at lunch. I am also not doing major revisions in this WIP during the first draft. I make notes of things I want to change or add. So far, this is working for me, and I'll have something in a month or so to go to my critique group. Here's what I've learned from this experiment:
- Set goals that work for you. If you find that it's too easy, then increase it.
- Just write. Worry about editing later.
- Strive to finish your first draft with the goals you set.
- If you know you have plans and won't be able to write, bank some word count ahead of time. It's easier than trying to make up word counts later. Plus, it feels better to be a head than playing catch up.
- Stop if you just don't feel like writing. Take a break and do something to get your energy or creativity recharged.
- Be kind to yourself. Progress is progress. A paragraph is more than you had when you started.
And remember, you need to find the style and process that works for you. Try something. If it's not working, then try something else. There's no right or wrong way. You just need to find a way to make steady progress. Happy writing!