By Writing Excuses | August 11, 2013 - 5:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Editing, Genre, Lifestyle, Live Audience, Q&A, Season 8

Microcasting! It’s what we call a Q&A, because it’s like several little podcasts in one! Here are the questions (you’ll have to listen to the show for the answers):

  • How do you manage your workload?
  • Are writing contests worth it? Which ones are good?
  • How do you make it clear that the weird aspects of your world are done on purpose rather than just being bad science?
  • How do you know when to take a break from your writing?
  • What are your word count suggestions for various markets?

Some Worthy Links: Writer Beware, Writers of the Future

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Madman's Daughter, by Megan Shepherd, narrated by Lucy Rayner

Writing Prompt: Keep track of your hourly word count for a day's writing. Then set goals to beat that word count in subsequent sessions.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 11th, 2013 at 5:00 pm and is filed under Business, Career, Editing, Genre, Lifestyle, Live Audience, Q&A, Season 8. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. August 11, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

    I want a session word count tool for Google docs!!! Using it in Scrivener makes a huge difference to me. Watching that colour change get through the baby poop green stage is very motivating.

    Posted by AM Gray
  2. August 12, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    On word counts, your reasons for publishers/agents rejecting long word count novels (for first time authors) were spot on. In case anyone doesn’t realize yet it’s about money (costs) and risk. A long word count novel has to be ‘special’ for them to take on, not just good.

    My first epic fantasy novel was 240,000 words and publishers told me to cut it down to reduce publishing costs. Even at 182,000 words they said it was too long. I kept the 182k word count and persisted, and now it’s published and ranking well on Amazon.

    Posted by Mitchell Hogan
  3. August 12, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

    I would love you guys to do a podcast on what Mary said about having to take a break when “writing isn’t fun anymore”. I’m actually really struggling with that right now. I finished a story in January and have been seriously struggling with revisions since. At first, it was a struggle but one I could enjoy. However, lately every time I open up my Scrivener document it feels like a prison sentence. I feel like I desperately need a break from writing, but I’m scared of losing the routine I became addicted to. I write every day, I’m afraid I won’t get back to that if I take a break. More importantly, when does writing become fun again for me? I used to love to it so much and sure, there were days I could go on without writing, but this has happened to me before. Please, a podcast on this would be amazing!

    Posted by Jen
  4. August 13, 2013 @ 2:46 am

    Another great episode, thanks!

    Posted by Friendly Frank
  5. August 13, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

    Yeah, it can be quite a balancing act between organically introducing the reader to weird elements of your world without them thinking you are just writing real world rules incorrectly.

    I even have a tough time every so often having the reader interpret a metaphor correctly. Sometimes, the reader will interpret it literally. Such as: “Tiny needles stabbed throughout his head.” I try to avoid “felt,” but this can cause confusion. Someone asked me, How did he get needles inside his head?
    Do you all think this is just more of a balancing act like with weird elements?

    Posted by Michael
  6. August 13, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

    Setting goals, deadlines, writing contests and more?

    Yes, it’s a race to see how many words can fit in 15 minutes. Well, 17 minutes. Okay, 19 minutes. Under 20 minutes!

    Read all about it, right here. A transcript!

    Posted by 'nother Mike
  7. August 13, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

    @AM Gray? You know that you can select (high-light) text and then do a word count in Google Docs and it will happily tell you how many words in the selection? Or open a new document each session and just do a word count, then put those in a spreadsheet? Admittedly, I don’t know how to get a running count that automatically tracks, but the extra effort to get a word count isn’t very much.

    Posted by 'nother Mike
  8. August 14, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

    Re: Word Count tools. Lots of the “Plain Text” (WriteMonkey, q10, FocusWriter, DarkRoom…) editors out there have live word counts as you type. Many of them can track it by session, too.

    One of my favorite tools to help me with my time and/or wordcount goals is

    Posted by Bryce
  9. August 15, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    I’ve just come across this podcast — thanks for the handy tips! I’ve just realized how a couple of my chapters could be confusing due to improper blocking.

    Mary, thanks for mentioning Bloody Jack. I don’t typically read YA, but a friend recommended this, and now I’m hooked on the series. Katherine Kellgren is an amazing narrator!

    Mitchell Hogan, congrats on sticking to your guns re: word count.

    Posted by Scott
  10. August 16, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

    [...] charts for various genres.  So I was really happy to listen to this past week’s episode of Writing Excuses, in which the cast enumerate the accepted numbers for submissions for publication, and how they [...]

  11. August 19, 2013 @ 2:10 am

    [...] This week on Writing Excuses, join co-hosts Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells for a little Q&A! They offer helpful responses to several questions, including whether writing contests are worth the effort for aspiring writers, how to manage work schedules to avoid burnout, and how to match word counts to different markets! [...]