My writing speed sucks. As a writer I would like to be able to produce thousands of words per day. Ideally of perfect quality too… OK one can dream, I’d settle for 3-4k per day, and it wouldn’t even have to be every day. Unfortunately at the moment even getting a measly thousand words per day seems to be a challenge (this post gets me half way there, though…). I am definitely not ready for this kind of event: 10k Days.

Last year I’ve read this fantastic article from Rachel Aaron about how she went from 2K to 10k words per day. It was very inspirational and even if I don’t get to the 10k, it would be nice to achieve a generally higher word count. One of the big points in the article is preparing before you write. I always liked to consider myself a pantser, a type of author that writes without preparation, whatever their creative mind spews out. With little planning, I would take inspiration from a single scene or character and just go on from there spinning the tale. I only started considering doing some planning for my work once I decided to publish it.

However as I’ve been going through tons of writing advice last year (including the like of the article mentioned earlier), I’m actually starting to think I’m  really a planner at heart. It does appeal to my analytical side, despite my creative side throwing a tantrum at that very notion. My second published fiction story actually roughly followed the three act structure and I enjoyed having the roadmap it provided. There was still plenty of room for creativity, but I think the outline helped me write a story that was better rounded and more complete.

I always quite liked the idea behind something called “The Snowflake Method“. But it felt like the amount of iterations it involved, some of which seemed unnecessary for self-published books, was excessive and the “one sentence” synopsis scared the hell out of me. Later on I went through other, more or less similar systems, but nothing felt quite right. Each of these had some valid points and guidelines, but I couldn’t settle for any 100%.

After nearly a year of research, studying articles on writing and gathering little bits of advice sprinkled around the Internet I’m now getting ready to compile all that into a template that will work for me. And I think that’s something most authors need to do themselves, process all the advice and information out there into a customised and personalized system.

One thing I plan to include in my setup is a daily writing target. And here we get back to the point I started this post with – I really need to work on my word count. As part of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 I wanted to write at least 1000 words per day. Unfortunately once I decided that I actually do need to plan things out before I get into writing, that meant most of the fiction I had going ground to a halt. Now I’ve got several manuscripts all waiting for better and more detailed outlines to be created. It’s almost as if no matter which side I choose – my creative or analytical brain, the other one is going to cause trouble.

Some people argue against the daily writing goals, but I like the challenge (even if I tend to fail a lot at it), as it is a constant reminder to actually do some writing. When being an author is just one of several jobs you’ve got, it can be easy to postpone your writing sessions. And then “I will start next week” can quickly turn into “oh, has it really been 6 months since my last story was published?”.

Over to you, what is your preference – strict writing targets or relying on the muse to struck?