At the beginning of January, I started something I heard about on The Creative Penn podcast (Are You Meeting Your Writing Goals? Try These Productivity Tips for Writers). I stuck a tiny January calendar in my writing book and began keeping track of how many words I wrote each day. I didn't know if it would really help to keep me writing, but I'm happy to report that it has. Some of the benefits:
1) Keeping the flow going. Maybe it's just the story I'm working on, but I do find it's easier to get back into the story for each writing session.
2) More pencil on paper writing. Sometimes when I'm tired at the end of the day, I'll realize I haven't worked on my story. And I feel a twinge of guilt because I haven't filled in anything on my chart. So I get out my writing notebook (going to the computer is too much trouble because at this point I'm probably lying in bed). Since I don't have a backspace key, I just write freely about something I think might happen in the story. I know I can always fix it up later when I type it in.
3) Experimenting with the writing process. With my previous novels, I wrote all the scenes in order. But now I have this chart. I don't want to be stuck. I want to get something done so I record it, so I just work on whatever scene catches my interest. If I don't know what comes next, I skip to the next thing that I know is going to happen. I'm not sure what this will do to the end product but I'm finding that the process is more fun. I spend less time thinking about what I'm going to write each day. (It also helps that I have a plan with some major scenes and an ending so I know where I'm going.)
Would I recommend keeping track of your word count?
I'm not sure it would work if I started obsessing about the exact number of words I wrote each day. That'd be too much pressure. But it is motivating to write something on that calendar every day. It's okay with me if it's just a paragraph or even a sentence. Of course, once I get thinking about my story, it usually turns into more.