Wordcounts are a stable of any writer’s life. They’re an excellent way to measure progress through a draft, and a good way of working out how your pacing is working through a story.
But they’re not everything, and here are my three reasons why:
You can pick other goals
But they don’t work for everyone. And even if they work for you, they might not work all the time.
This is reason one why wordcounts aren’t everything – because you can pick other goals to choose from: how far through your outline, finishing certain scenes, editing a number of chapters. Plus, these other goals might better fit the writing life you’re living right now – if you can’t commit to 100 words a day due to other commitments, then saying “I’ll finish this chapter this month” might give you the flexibility to actually achieve it.
More words doesn’t necessarily mean better words
One thing I’ve learnt editing my ongoing novel project is that more words doesn’t necessarily mean better. In a world where someone throwing down 100k words in a short space of time is seen as an achievement, I want to remind you that just because you can write more words doesn’t mean your book will be better for it. In fact, you might end up spending more time editing your project to cut words out and increase the pace.
You have to be flexible
One thing I’ve found with wordcounts is that they’re pretty inflexible. They demand a certain amount of content, regardless of life pressures or the way the story is going. In fact, my final reason that wordcounts aren’t everything is that your writing life needs to be flexible.
How you write, your time to write, and how you feel when you write will all be influenced by external factors from your wider life.
(and that’s okay, that’s how it should be).
But when you’re too busy, or stressed, or just plain fed up with your project, you need the ability to work your way back into finding your natural interest again. That connection with creativity isn’t going to come about because you’ve met a certain arbitrary wordcount, it’ll come when you spend time nurturing your inspiration – and that needs flexibility.
Photo Credit: Fabio Santaniello Bruun on Unsplash