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When working on the first draft of a long project, I do well with word count goals. I choose the date by which I want to have a completed manuscript, and I break that down into a word target for each day.
I want to finish this draft by June, so I have been writing 500 words a day since the beginning of January. A purple progress bar tells me where I’m at, and how far I have to go.
Some days I write longer, and that makes up for the days I don’t quite make it to 500. The important thing is to show up each day. I almost always hit 500 words if I just show up.
The other important thing is to push past my natural stopping point. Often I find that the weirdest, best, most plucked-from-the-subconscious writing happens after I feel “done.” The arbitrary daily word count goal forces me to ask, “What else?” And the answer is sometimes surprising.
This newsletter is about novel writing, but I also have a new short story out in the world this week, published by CRAFT. It’s called Our Lady of Divine Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, and it’s about a woman who reconnects with her childhood priest following the death of her son.