Watching a word count stagnate can be discouraging, and feeling discouraged about your word count can make it even more difficult to write.
When this happens to me, I find that the best solution is to try to boost my word count as quickly as I can, in order to stop the spiral of negative thoughts.
If your word count is currently stuck, here are a few ways to boost it:
Word Wars, Word Sprints, and Writing Dares
Word wars, sprints, and dares are all different forms of writing challenges. While these are better when they’re done with other writers, you can do sprints and dares by yourself.
What are word wars, sprints, and dares?
A word war is an activity where you and another writer compete to write the most amount of words within a time limit.
It doesn’t really matter who wins in a word war, as what matters is that you got to increase your word count!
A word sprint is similar to a word war, except instead of competing with other writers, you’re all just trying to write as much as you can, within a time limit.
Word sprints are a good way to force yourself to sit and write, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Some common word sprint timings are:
- 10 minutes
- 15 minutes
- 1k 30 minutes (a special challenge to write 1000 words in just 30 minutes)
- 2k 1 hour (a special challenge to write 2000 words in just one hour)
Lastly, writing dares are special challenges that you can do to try and boost your word count.
Here’s a writing dare for you: write 100 words for each letter of your first name. My first name is Rebekah, so I would need to write 700 words.
Here are a few more writing dares for you to do:
- Flip a coin. If heads, write 200 words. If tails, write only 100 words.
- Try to write 500 words in 10 minutes. If you fail, write another 50 words to make up for it.
- Do a Fifty Headed Hydra. A Fifty Headed Hydra is a special challenge where you attempt to write 500 words in just 5 minutes.
Use Writing or Dialogue Prompts
Writing prompts and dialogue prompts are one of my favorite ways to un-stick a stuck story.
You can find tons of writing prompts and dialogue prompts online. I have quite a few saved on my Pinterest account. Why don’t you check them out?
There are thousands of prompts online, so just have a quick search and find one that interests you.
Even if you don’t end up keeping the prompt in the final version of your story, it’s still a good way to get to know your characters or setting more, so I would recommend giving it a try.
Shifting the Focus to the Plot, Subplot, or Characters
Sometimes when your novel gets stuck, it’s because you’ve been stuck on something for too long. If that’s the case, try focusing on something different in your novel.
Maybe you haven’t advanced the main plot enough yet, or maybe your characters need to do some developing.
Recently, I was stuck on my novel because I wasn’t spending enough time furthering the plot. Instead I was getting too wrapped up on the character interactions. Once I realized this, I began to write scenes that furthered the plot of the story, and I was able to break through and write 10,000 words in just one day.
Flesh Out Backstories and World Building
If you’re not sure what to do with your story, maybe you should take a step back and write some scenes that flesh out the world that your story takes place in, or that fill out the backstories of your characters.
Often the backstories and world building get neglected during the writing process, as most of it will be removed during the editing process, but working on backstories and world building can give you valuable insight into your story.
Even if you know you won’t be keeping it in the final version, try taking the time to explore your characters and settings, to see if you gain any insights.
Create Editing or Revision Notes
Sometimes, while writing, it can be difficult to let go of your inhibitions and just let the words flow. Especially if your inner editor or reviser keeps telling you about corrections you should be making to what you just wrote.
Instead of giving in to that voice in your head and deleting a bunch of paragraphs, write down some notes on the corrections that your inner editor or reviser is suggesting.
This allows you to continue focusing on increasing your word count, and also works as a safeguard in case you forget what you wanted to change once you get to the editing or revising phase.
Plus, the human mind is obsessive. Unless you do something about those critiques that you keep telling yourself, then you’ll keep telling them to yourself over and over again.
Writing them down is a good way to get them out of your head, and to leave them for when you have fresh eyes and more objectivity.
What matters during the writing phase is that you actively work on getting things written. It doesn’t matter if you think you’ll get rid of what you’ve written during the editing phase, since there won’t be anything to edit if you don’t write anything.
If you found this post helpful, please leave a like or share it with someone else who’d find it helpful.
I publish posts here every Wednesday, so check back next week for some new content.