Thursday, September 27, 2012

Forget Word Count. Give Me Count Dracula.

A lot of writers, including some close, dear friends of mine, like to post their word counts after a few hours or a day of hard work. For example, 986 words. 1,511 words. 3,789 words. You get the idea. I've only done this once or twice, though, and I immediately felt cheap. Here's why. (And I have NOTHING against these authors. It motivates them, and that's great. Just doesn't motivate ME.)

This blog post explains why I don't use word count to measure a day's progress/achievement.

First, I edit heavily as I write. Momentum/being in the moment is also important to me. This means I often go back and re-read the story up until that point so I'm in the exact right mindset for a new scene(s).  This is true regardless of if I'm 10,000 words into the story or 40,000. I also like to go back and add/flesh out characters as I write rather than do so on draft two. Or three. So, some days I may get no more than 500 - 1,000 new words written and be at the same ending point I was the day before. But I feel very successful because I've fleshed out a character trait or changed a subplot. That kind of thing.  But if I post "500 words!" that cheapens my achievement.

Numbers don't tell the story.

Second, I'm "weird" about coming across as bragging or trying to outdo others. And, yeah, I admit it, I DO get a brag vibe from some of these word count posts. Yeah, yeah, throw the rotten fruit at me. :P

Third, I'd drive myself crazy if I used word count as my day-to-day progress metric. My progress metric is intrinsic. I know if it's been a good or bad day.

I'm sure there are other reasons, but they escape me at the moment.

Count Dracula all the way, baby! I love my vamps and zombies.


Jay said...

LOL! I do exactly the same as you in every aspect of my writing. People look at me weirdly when I say I only do one draft of my stories, like they think I'm lying. But by the time I finish my first draft, my story is pretty well ready for publication.

Some days my total of additional words looks like zero or even a minus figure. But word count is still a way to measure how much closer I am to a possible finish. Yesterday, for instance, I reworked two complete scenes that subtracted from how many words farther along I got, but my total count went up 600 "additional" words, so I felt satisfied...

Thanks for sharing!

Nann Dunne

Q. Kelly said...

Yes! I'm totally with you on the minus word counts, especially after a heavy session that leads to the removal of some scenes but the addition of a new subplot or some such. Yeah, the word count overall went down, but it was a good 'ritin day! :)