13 Comments

Loved this, and enjoyed seeing how other writers approach it! I used to pressure myself to write 2000 words a day, but I found that I was sometimes writing past the point of constructive work. Now I have one rule, and that is to touch my MS once a day, no matter what. Sometimes I write a very good sentence and other times I write for much longer, but the book gets finished.

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author

I love this. An excellent rule.

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I have an end goal of words that I aim for having decided that my life is just too hectic to count daily words. I tried to do daily counts but I can’t. I know the novel can’t have more than 110,000 words so I try to make that my goal, after much editing. I’ve never liked structure but I find it rather freeing... as it turns out.

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Jul 28, 2022·edited Jul 28, 2022Liked by Hattie Crisell

On days I've designated as writing days, I aim for 1000 words. On days that I haven't got time alone to write I sometimes try anyway, just in amongst other life, and then I'm just happy with anything at all. If I've managed to put 200 words down on a day off it feels like a real bonus and sometimes I think the wedged nature of the time window propels me a bit, and it helps me look forward to my next official quiet writing time (I have a young child, can you tell?)

The one thing that really helps me is an overall deadline for a project; once I know I'm working toward something (I ask my agent to set me a deadline for a first draft - the more ambitiously tight, the better!) then I know it's a job I'm going to show up for. I don't even know if the word counts will add up to the right amount by the date I'm aiming for, I just know I won't miss that end date.

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I have a spreadsheet that counts my words; I find it really really important at first draft to use this, because it shows progress over weeks and weeks. Otherwise I look back and forward and wonder how much I have done and how much I have to do and I have no record. I'm with John Lanchester on daily counts too: I aim for 750. I'm 30000 words into book 3 (all unpublished), 15k of which will be, oh yes, my UEA MA dissertation. Oliver Burkeman on 'radical incrementalism' in Four Thousand Weeks is helpful on this. Good luck with the dissertation and love love love your podcast!

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I love this idea of word count spread sheet!

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I'm a spreadsheet person too. I just find it so satisfying when my daily word count is a healthy one, or when my total word count crosses over into a new thousand. The trick to this is being okay with it when your daily word count is 0, or even a minus number. 1000 words is my ideal daily word count, but looking at my spreadsheet I hit that quite rarely!

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Hi Hattie! I actually don't do word counts at all but measure by scenes, or scene attempts! I am also starting the Birkbeck MA (we msged before about it) and I write a substack about novel writing and life, thought I'd share as I reference my top 15 writing podcasts - yours being such a go to for me x https://storey.substack.com/p/writing-a-novel-is-hell-on-earth

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author

Thank you so much for sharing and for the lovely shout-out – so glad you like the podcast. I love that you measure by scenes – do you try and write a certain number of scenes in one session?

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Goodness, I wish. It's usually just the one! I am absolutely terrible at moving forwards though, I get stuck in endless loops of editing. For some reason I'm addicted, though I know it's getting me nowhere. Psychologically I suppose it feels safer than pushing on into the unknown!

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Thanks for this great list - I'm always looking for new lit podcasts to discover, off to download some of these now.

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Jul 28, 2022Liked by Hattie Crisell

Nothing better than listening to a brilliant writer divulge that they too find writing hard!! x

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deletedJul 28, 2022Liked by Hattie Crisell
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I write longhand too and, these days, try and type it up asap after finishing. It took me three months to type the first draft of my first novel and I can't do that again!

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