Saturday 5 September 2015

Word Counts, Timers and Chapters by Melissa Gijsbers #ChaBoochaLite

ChaBooCha Lite has started and, unlike NaNoWriMo, we all have different goals. Some of us are editing, some of us are writing a 5,000 word chapter book, and some of us are writing a 20,000 middle grade novel.

 How do we make sure we keep on track so we’re not trying to do it all in the last week?

Here are few methods for you to try:

Word count

If your goal is to write a set amount of words, this method could work well.
Divide your target words by the number of days and you will know how many words you need to write a day.

For example, if you are writing a 20,000 word middle grade novel, divide 20,000 by 30 and you will get 667 words a day (I know it’s actually 666.667, but I’ve rounded up). To keep up with your target, aim to write at least 667 words a day.

If you know you are going to have days off and will only be able to write for 20 days of the month, divide your goal by that many days. Tick off the days and word count as you go to keep on track.

If you are editing, you could also set a word count to edit each day. Be careful with this as you could lose track of the words as you add and delete words in your manuscript.

Number of Chapters

Work out how many chapters you want your book to be and how many words will be in each chapter. Based on this, work out how many chapters you will need to write each day to reach your goal.

For example, if you set a goal of 10 chapters at 500 words each, you could aim to write two chapters a day and get your draft done in 5 days. Once your manuscript is done, you would have time to write a second book.

If you are editing, you could set yourself a number of chapters to edit each day of the challenge to reach your goal.

This is the method I use during the Chapter Book Challenge each March. I aim to write at least 10 chapters of at least 750 words each. The extra days are set aside for planning and research.

Set a Timer

Depending on how you write or edit, setting a timer each day could be helpful.
Set aside an amount of time, for example half an hour, and just write or edit as much as you can in that time. Depending on what else is happening in your day, you could set aside more than one period of time a day to work on the challenge.

Your timer could be anything from a timer on your phone to the length of kids activities or even the length of a TV show!

This can also be a useful method when you have a family as you can tell them you need uninterrupted time for half an hour (or whatever the time is) and can answer their questions and do things for them when the time is up.

For me, I’ve found this works well when I’m editing.

These methods can help as you can check in every day and let the others in the group know you have achieved your daily goal and you will be able to track how you are going.

What methods do you use to keep track of your goals during a challenge?

Melissa Gijsbers is an Australian author and blogger. Her first children’s book, "Swallow Me, NOW!" published in 2014, was written during the Chapter Book Challenge in 2013.  When she’s not writing or coming up with ideas for stories, she’s running around after two active boys and working in the family business. You can find her online at or on Facebook at


All signedoup members of the challenge who comment on this post will be entered into a drawing at the end of the month for a $5 (USD) Amazon gift certificate.


  1. Thanks for all the great tips! I’m a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” writer and usually do not keep track of my word count as I never know when my manuscript will hang a left into the unknown or where it will take me. I leave paying attention to my word count for when I’m revising and adding or cutting material here and there.

    I do like your idea of setting chapter/word count goals and will definitely try this with my new manuscript series that I am currently working on

    1. I'm also a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" writer and find that word counts don't really do it for me... but I know some people who find them helpful. The chapter goal helps me as there have been some books that have needed more chapters than I originally set, but I consider it a win to get my initial goal ;)

  2. Melissa, thank you for excellent suggestions. I love the idea of timing to a tv show. I used the word count method and have happily exceeded my goal on three days. Figure I a bit of a buffer, for when life veers south or hummingbirds come to visit.

    1. My son watches Dr Who weeknights, it's 45 minutes long, so that's my editing time :) I've seen all those episodes so I'm not missing out.

  3. Thanks, Melissa. I started using a version of the Pomodoro method suggested by Paula Yoo during NaPiBoWriWee. Basically you work for 25 minutes, then do something else for 15. Having a timer on my ipad works great. I keep it next to my mommy to-do list. It's amazing how much laundry I can get done in 15 minutes. And when the timer goes off, drop the socks and back to writing. Before I know it, I've done hours worth of writing, a bit of housecleaning, and have avoided most distractions!

  4. Like Joanne, I bounce back and forth between writing and everything else. But I prefer to finish writing/editing a scene then handle a mom-related job and back to writing (if possible). For me, using a timer would add another stress. I'm outlining book 3 of my chapter book series now.

  5. Hello! Melissa, firstly I would like to appreciate your work. Thanks for all the great tips! I am also give help for Word count of my goal.

  6. Thanks, Melissa for the boost! My goal is to write a Biblical Fiction chapter book of about 10,000-12,000 words. I began it a couple of years ago, and now, I plan to finish it. I'm writing a page a day, which will get me to my goal, and then some. Lately, I've been waiting until the end of the day to write. I'm headed to my chair right now. ;-}

  7. Great post. This month I am aiming to edit two chapters a day, usually I aim to write about 1400 - 2000 words (approx. two chapters), its all I get time for, I hope you reach your goal.

  8. Great article Melissa! I love the simplicity of it...10 chapters, 500 words each, 2 chapters a day...done in 5 days 😄 Now that's a plan! Thanks for a great post!

  9. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post. word counter