Scott D. Parker
Words, pages, or scenes? What is the best way to measure progress when writing a novel?
When I wrote my first novel, I had zero idea about word count so I just stuck with scenes. They were as long as they needed to be.
After I met some fellow writers online, I learned that word count was also a method. In fact, it was often the preferred method publishers used to solicit stories and novels. So I switched and have been using word count as my standard ever since. I still let scenes do what they want.
Writing streaks are a great way to maintain momentum when you are on a project. I use them all the time as well. Since 2022 was a disastrous year of (non) writing for me, I resolved that I would start a brand-new project on New Year’s Day 2023 and keep going everyday until I completed the book.
I have written everyday this year. Yay! The book is coming along nicely, and its serving to remind me about the power and excitement of actually creating a story out of thin air.
During every writing session, I have managed to write 1,000 words or more. That’s kind of a doable benchmark I use that is a nice round number. It has enabled me to reach 64,000 words in the book as of yesterday, Day 55 of the year, so that’s really nice to see. Plus, it’s not as aggressive as the 1,667 words per day you need to write, a la NaNoWriMo, to get a 50,000-word book done in 30 days, but it is usually an achievable threshold, especially when I’m in that flow state.
But is it a good one?
There have been a few days this year when I’m writing a particular scene and I half wonder if I’m writing more words just to reach 1,000 words. I cannot consciously say yes, but the nagging splinter of that idea that I’m just padding the word count remains.
I guess that’s what editing is for.
What about you? How do you measure progress on a book?