Do yourself a favor, writers, and start a wordcount spreadsheet. Fill it in every day. If you wrote nothing today, type 0 into the cell. There are two benefits to this that I’ve seen in my writing.
First, numbers have an interesting effect on our psychology. On a day where you write little or nothing you’ve probably got a list of excuses prepared for yourself. You see, we humans are good at telling ourselves why we don’t suck. But when you enter a “0″ onto a spreadsheet and your “daily average” count updates, the sharp drop in your productivity hurts. That number won’t comfort you, it won’t make excuses for you or be understanding. It merely is. Most people react to this by vowing to make up for lost time and do better the next day, rather than accepting that it was out of their control. Likewise, when your stats improve you get a nice little drip of dopamine.
The second benefit is that you can build a real understanding of your productivity. On a day you record a horrible wordcount, your natural instict is probably to figure out why it happened. You’ll look back at that day and analyze it more objectively than if you were looking for excuses, and you’ll do it that day rather than later when the details are fuzzy.
Once you keep a spreadsheet (and writing journal), you’ll begin to notice patterns and uncover what causes you to do better or worse. One last bit of advice: don’t hold yourself to the wordcounts that other people put out, whether better or worse than yours. That’s them, and you are you. Knowing yourself, however, can only help you improve.