For some reason, it’s particularly easy to settle into our own average when it comes to number of words. We have our little structure, our precious own style that we’ve painstakingly formed, and, for some reason, we’re unwilling to let it go — even when it doesn’t work.
I don’t do word counts until after I’ve finished writing a piece, and maybe not even then.
I write ideas, not words, and the words are just the tools I use to get there. Not all writing takes place at the keyboard. Sometimes while I’m working on an article, I take a walk or go wash the car; I can still be working on it.
Sometimes the work flows, and you can knock it out of the park without leaving your desk, but for me, it usually doesn’t work that way.
One technique I like to use when I tackle a project — whether it’s writing or cleaning the garage — is to set a timer. I like to use time as my goal.
In working on things I don’t like to do, I’ll set the timer for 45 minutes, then I take a timed break of 15 minutes, then I return to it. I can work on just about anything for 45 minutes, knowing that I can quit at the end and take a break.
I do have those times when I am so engaged with writing or another task which I’m excited that I decide not to quit after 45 minutes. And I don’t.
But all of us come to a point when the words on the screen begin to fade. It’s then a fool’s errand to persist because we haven’t reached our word count goal. The writing deteriorates, we make errors, our thinking isn’t clear. Take a break.
One piece of advice I received years ago was to take the first hour of the day just to think. You can’t create creativity; you have to make space for it to happen.