I have very few words for you today. Get rid of your word-o-meters! They kill creativity.
Write your first draft until you think your story is FINISHED - COMPLETE. Until your story has a beginning, middle and an end. Until you have covered all your plot points in your outline. Until you get that tingling through your limbs when you instinctively know you have just written that very last word.
I repeat ...
DO NOT CHECK YOUR WORD COUNT UNTIL YOUR STORY IS FINISHED!
Really, what's the point? Seeing how many words you've written is not going to change the fact that you are writing. All it does is make you think you haven't written enough. Forget it. Stop doing things that make you feel bad about yourself. You do not need to see a number in order to feel satisfied with your progress. Just write it. Write it and finish it, and then check your word count when you
feel your story has been told.
feel your story has been told.
Word! : jReplyDelete
I did that for my first book. I ended up with 135K. I had to cut 40 from it just to make it queryable. With this book, I've divided the book into 5 acts, 20K in each. So far I've hit my marks right where they should be.ReplyDelete
However, that's just me. You're right, you shouldn't really pay attention to your word count just the write the best book you can.
This is great! THanks for this. I used to be so worried about this--then I realized--hey dummy you're not finished wait till you're done.ReplyDelete
Now it's one less thing to worry about. For now. :)
Sounds like a plan! :) Although the word count doesn't usually effect me anyway.ReplyDelete
I used one on Absolute Write, and for me I found that it drove me harder. I kept wanting to see it advance.ReplyDelete
I hear you, but one does have to keep it in the back of their mind. I guess it all depends what type of writer you are. Do you like layering after or during? Deleting scenes after or during? Cutting 50,000 words is tough for some people. But thinking about word count while writing can be very distracting.ReplyDelete
Good advice. I tend to use word count like a watch when I am running--as it takes the fun out of the exercise.ReplyDelete
Since I'm not a big fan of writing the first draft (for me, the story really comes alive with the edits), I tend to use the word counts as a form of motivation. I already know what my goal is, so I get excited when I hit the (supposed) halfway point, three-quarter way point, etc. But that's just me.ReplyDelete
What? How do I brag to my writer friends then?ReplyDelete
Too funny! My word counter actually made me want to get my wordage in. heehee.ReplyDelete
But yeah, I can see how they'd stifle creativity.
haha! Everyone disagrees with me! I'm a slow writer, so I feel crap looking at the word count! :o)ReplyDelete
For what it's worth, I agree with you. Of course I'm not a writer, so it doesn't count for much. That said, your comments seem pretty evenly divided on this issue.ReplyDelete
I've only found use for word counters when conforming to a certain writing format, for writing contests for instance.
Otherwise, to me, it feels more like cribbage and less like story telling. : j
I completely agree. Word count isn't something I take into consideration AT ALL during the first draft. Once its edited I might consider adding a few choice scenes if I need to up the wc or editing out uneeded descrption/info etc if I need to decrease. But that first draft should just be about getting it out there!ReplyDelete
I try not to check my wordcount, I just can't help it. Although now I'm editing I'm less bothered because I'm cutting anyway. lol.ReplyDelete
Like stepping on the scales isn't it? Or counting followers. Geesh why do numbers matter so much to us?ReplyDelete
It is weird, but when I am doing proposals, reports or similar stuff, I never look at the word count. But when I am writing for me, I always do!ReplyDelete
You are right, it makes no difference, except you get bragging rights if you count.
What if you write too much? ARGH!! My first draft was 477,000 words long. Now that I know more I'm not even sure how it happened. I wish I had the opposite problem. Oh well. I'm working on it.ReplyDelete
Good advice! My stories don't always end in the perfect word count range and I lament over it!ReplyDelete
Ahh but if I don't check what can I use to distract me from writing?!ReplyDelete
Word count is currently the bane of my existence. Only my problem is too many words. *sigh*ReplyDelete
I see your point, but...I have to know my word count so I can feel some sense of accomplishment. lol. Sad but true.ReplyDelete
As a non author this is so very interesting to read.ReplyDelete
I can't promise I'll try. But I'll try to try. :)ReplyDelete
I so needed this post today! I've been too concerned with how many words get written lately...when I just need to focus on writing the story. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Mine automatically shows on the bottom of my word doc page...I have a mac, and Word for the mac has it there. I like it. It kinda motivates me.ReplyDelete
But I agree with the writing until you have a come to a natural end, and less about hitting a precise number.
Happy Humpday, Jessica! :)
Ugh, good point. It really is distracting isn't it? And it's not the point. It's the quality that counts right?ReplyDelete
But, but, but.... I'm involved in BuNoWriMo and I have to write a certain amount of words. But, I do understand what you're saying. I hate having to write a certain amount of words a day... my creativity is certainly taxed.ReplyDelete
Yikes! I don't know if I can do it! I check it everytime I write. I want to know how much progress I'm making. Plus, I steel myself to make sure I write 500, 1000, 1,500 words before I stop. It's a must.ReplyDelete
Okay, for you, I'll try. ;-)
As a recovering hard-core overwriter--and a slow one at that--I can't agree more. Word counts are a false measure of progress. I can write page after page of tangential, babbling crap while chasing a word count goal, but that doesn't get me closer to the REAL goal--a publishable manuscript!ReplyDelete
Great advice! I only used it at the end to see how many words I had written because I was so amazed with myself! You're right, word count is dangerous... and very distracting! No need for it!ReplyDelete
Definetly ok! BTW, I just managed to make my 137 thousand word finished fantasy novel into 100 thousand words. HELL YEAHHH lol.ReplyDelete
Sorry, had to share!
I always check my word count. Not for validation but it helps keep me from overwriting. And I like to know at the end of a day what I've accomplished. Sorry. :(ReplyDelete
I never bothered with one, until I noticed a counter on ywriter. It was increasing daily and drove me forward.ReplyDelete
This is SO true. I spent my ENTIRE drafting process stressing about my word count, because it was high. And I was terrified to query because my word count was high. But I got an agent and when she made me revise, word count was not the issue. It doesn't matter AS much as we think it does--as long as the words belong (or in the case of shorter books, don't belong) in the story.ReplyDelete
Thanks for such a great post! Sorry I haven't been around more. WriteOnCon has kinda killed my blog hopping schedule.
I never really thought about word counts until I did NaNo and then the focus ssemed to be on that magic word count. Now I always check my blogs posts after I've finished them -- just out of curiosity.ReplyDelete
Tossing It Out
hi miss jessica! im real glad you said that cause on another blog that question got asked and i said i dont ever count words or make a goal of doing so many words in a day cause it gets in the way of good writing. ...hugs from lennyReplyDelete
OK! I'll try... but I love checking my word count... it's an addiction!ReplyDelete
I used to be totally obsessed with word count!ReplyDelete
I have an award for you: http://lovingbooksandmore.blogspot.com/2010/06/more-awards.html
You know, this is one advantage to writing longhand as I do. The DISADVANTAGE is ending up with a 204,000 word book (which my first one was) *coughs* But honestly, I don't worry about it in BOOK context, only when i am doing a WriMo--I guess if I am in writing mode I shoot for at least 1000 words a day, but whole thing? Meh.
I write everything by hand first, so I never know the word count until I go back and put the whole thing in Word.ReplyDelete
but, but, but I love checking my word count! I just cracked 50k! That makes me feel purty darn good.ReplyDelete
It's kinda like glancing down at the speedometer while driving. Just something I do, doesn't really change anything. LOL
Ok! Yes ma'am! When, and if, I ever get around to writing something beyond a blog ... I promise, on my honor, no counting words!ReplyDelete
My old laptop program didn't show the word count - I had to look it up. This one has it right there on the bottom toolbar. When I first started using it, I oculdn't keep my eyes off it. Now I barely remember it's there. :)ReplyDelete
Great advice. I usually only break mine out during revisions to see where I am. My range is 85 to 100k that my genre allows so its a nice window.ReplyDelete
Lately I've made myself write for a certain amount of time, and only count words if I'm writing a short story that needs to stay in the word count. But with the novels, you're absolutely correct. Just need to write it til its done.ReplyDelete
I never used to check word counts- I just paid attention to page counts to keep me motivated.ReplyDelete
So here's a question for you from one of us OCD types: If you don't check word counts (or page counts) how do you motivate yourself?
But what of us poor souls who have Word 2007 and a running word count down below! :)ReplyDelete
Seriously though, word counts shouldn't matter in first drafts at all. Only when you get into the heavy rewriting should you take a look.
Although...word counts are the best motivation for me, I will say.
Looks like we've got a pretty even mix of Okay and Nokay here :)ReplyDelete
To answer Staphanie's question: How do I keep myself motivated? I don't actually need to KEEP myself motivated. If I'm never motivated to write my story, then there's something wrong with it. When I love what I'm writing, I get bubbly and enthusiastic anyway. If I don't feel like writing it's usually because I'm exhausted from work. What I need motivation for is to do my day job!
While I agree with you in theory (except for those times when checking word count can actually be really awe-inspiring and motivating... 'wow, I did 10,000 words today??? EEEE!'), my MS Word shows me the word count constantly at the bottom of the page. So I really have no choice but to see it :)ReplyDelete
I very much agree... While word counting can be useful for a short-term exercise (like NaNoWriMo), quantity of words does NOT equal quality of writing, and it is NOT a good measure of how hard you're working or how productive you've been! What about editing, eh?ReplyDelete
Writing is rewriting. Counting words is useful to a point. Your finished manuscript must fit between certain reasonable parameters if you want to publish. But how many words you pound out in a day just shows how much you "practice" writing (which is a good thing, but not the only important thing); it doesn't show how productive or close to being finished you are.