Current Release

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Sold to the Viking Warrior

Friday, September 07, 2007

The little rituals of writing

Yesterday, I discovered that my rituals of writing are more deeply ingrained than I thought.
For about a week, I have been worried about my page count to word count ratio. It was very different from my normal page to word count ratio. One of the things I do is to write down how many words and the page number I am up to. I would like to say that I do this every day, but in reality, it depends on where I am in the ms and if I am really pushing forward, or IF I am to stop thinking about the ms for the day. The end result is that I do have a record. This makes it easy for me to go back and check -- I was at this word count and the page number on such and such, AND I still got it finished by this date. In other words, it serves as a motivational tool and helps to keep a certain variety of crow at bay.
Only this time, there was a disconnect. I came up with all sort of theories -- including the scary one of my writing had started to severely change. But that didn't make sense. I had visions of me turning a really long ms, only to be told -- great story, but you are going to have to cut because your word count has gone haywire.
Writers have vivid imaginations. It goes with the job.
Then I thought to look at my margins -- the thing I change BEFORE I start a new wip. Only this time, I hadn't. I changed my margins, and hey presto -- the word count to page ratio became my normal one. Huge relief. And I can get this finished. It is under 100 pages and less than 20k to go. (I enjoy the countdown)
Until this happened, I did not realise how important that ritual was to me. In order to feel in control of my writing, I need the safety net of the page to word count thing. That little piece of structure.
Does anyone else have little rituals like that? Or is it just the way my brain is wired?

6 comments:

Julie Cohen said...

I record my total word count and my daily word count on a (computer) calendar every day. It helps me see how much I have to write each day to meet my deadline, and it also reassures me, as you say--especially in stressful times, I look at the past and think, "Well, I did that then, I can do it again."

Definitely helps to ward off some crows.

It also gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. It's one of the last things I do before I go to bed.

That's funny about your margins. Glad you figured it out!

Donna Alward said...

I only keep a running total, but I can look at my meter and say, ok, I'm 1/4 of the way there...1/2...and once I get to 66% I know I'm in the homestretch of the first draft! It's definitely a comfort thing.

Whenever I get bogged down I remember that for The Soldier's Homecoming, I wrote 30k in just over 3 weeks with children underfoot for 2 of those weeks! It definitely reminds me that I can do it!

Kate Hardy said...

I have a spreadsheet showing my chapter wordcount and then underneath I can see how much I've written that day, how much needs to be done and how many words per day to achieve it. I just overwrite it with each book so I can't compare to the past, but it keeps me on track.

Nell said...

I keep track on paper. I have a bar chart and colour in the chapters as they get done. I have a target I work to in my head.

Ray-Anne said...

Hi Michelle. I use a daily computer total word count and a chapter count on a spreadsheet in excel.
This is a NET number so even if I delete 1000 words I know what that overall pattern looks like.
I do like Kate Hardy's idea about setting targets for text still to do, and the margin info is something I will look out for.
Thanks for that - Ray-Anne

Michelle Styles said...

I think it is intersting to see how other people work.And that everyone so far does keep track of her word count.