Wordcounts aren’t everything

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

I’ve spoken before about writing goals, and how to pick them. Indeed, wordcount goals (“I’ll write 100 words every day”) are a staple of writing advice blogs everywhere.

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.

Alex.J.Cobalt is a fantasy writer from the UK. When she’s not working away at her fantasy novel series, she posts free flash fictions on her website, along with regular blogs about writing.

Photo Credit: Fabio Santaniello Bruun on Unsplash

Writing On Caffeine - a Writing Advice Newsletter - Signup Now!

Check out my privacy policy for the legal bits about signing up to my Newsletter

2 thoughts on “Wordcounts aren’t everything

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.