Word count as a hypothetical metric because there is another key measure of writing progress that needs to happen first.
“The cart before the horse is neither beautiful nor useful.”Henry David Thoreau
The goal of my October Writing Habit Challenge in my Ink Authors group on Facebook was to increase the frequency of my members’ weekly writing caves so they can finish writing their books faster. Therefore, in the daily tracker I provided for everyone on October 1st, the main metric was exactly that – number of writing sessions per week.
I realize that the more common way of tracking book writing progress is by word count. That’s how it’s done during NaNoWriMo and on websites like 750words.com. This is a completely valid way of measuring your writing progress.
But, without the addition of a writing habit, is word count a hypothetical metric? The writing habit is the thing that gets you to your desk to produce that word count. Jumping right to word count feels a little like putting on your shoes before you put on your pants – a missing step. Putting the cart before the horse.
Is it any wonder I’ve created a daily podcast about writing habits?
Famous authors have been revealing how many words they write every day as part of interviews for many years. But for an author who hasn’t created the habit of hitting the pause button on their life and sitting down in front of their computer regularly to write, knowing that Stephen King writes 3,000 words every day at 5am isn’t terribly helpful.
This is why I don’t really consider Your Daily Writing Habit to be a book or publishing podcast, but rather a writing habits podcast. Therefore, rather than grouping myself with awesome experts in the book space like Joanna Penn or Jane Friedman, I associate my offering more with habits experts like James Clear and Nir Eyal and Scott H. Young. As evidence of my point, two of those gentlemen have been guests on YDWH. (Paging James Clear…)
My mission, as a writing habits expert, is to teach my fellow authors how to put their pants on first, and then their shoes. In my 21 years of experience, that’s how books get done because believe me, there are a whole lot of unfinished manuscripts in progress out there. My work is aimed squarely at creating and distributing the processes and methodology to relieve the pain of unfinished book writing goals.
So how is your writing habit? Where is evidence of your book writing goal on your calendar, as visual cues in your daily life, in your choices to sacrifice less important things, in a “no matter what” attitude toward your writing caves? I would love for books to write themselves just as much as you do, but the fact is, it’s habits that make them happen. Let me know if you need some help!
PS: Make sure you’re in my Ink Authors group in case I decide to host additional monthly writing habit challenges! In the meantime, it’s a great place for author habits, accountability, resources, support, and more. Once you’re there, be sure and speak up and let us know what you need to reach your writing goals (we’re awesome, but not psychic).