Positives and Negatives of Keeping a Word-Count

Most, if not all writers at one point or another have posted about their daily word-counts somewhere on social media. It seems to have become a very positive thing for writers to do to truly feel their progress and getting one step closer to publishing their next or even first books! Where there are positives, negatives don’t linger too far behind. But as usual, let’s start with the positives!

Sense of Accomplishment

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There’s no better feeling for a writer than feeling like they can extend plots and side-plots for as long as they like and still find themselves interested in developing their characters. With how thick some books can be, the thought of ‘is my story really long enough?’ can persist in the back of your head even before you begin writing anything but the more you see that word-count go up, you end up feeling more professional in the process and that emotional accomplishment is a win-win!

You Can Surprise Yourself

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For all you know, you can end up surpassing your own expectations and type much more than it previously looked like you would’ve been able to. Reaching your goal is great no matter what. Extending your capacity beyond that is a positive surprise that gets you more excited for your own material, which in turn will excite others!

Entices Die-hard Readers

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Whether it’s a J.R. Rowling a George R.R. Martin book, some readers never have enough to read and would read the world’s supply of words if they could! By keeping track of your word-count, you put yourself in a prime position to cater to such an audience because you have an idea of what they expect from lengthy books and odds are if you’re sticking to that target, you’re just like them! The word-count has never seemed like more of a motivator than it does in this situation.

Now that these positives have hopefully brought a smile to your face, it’s time for me to keep you weary of constantly focusing on how many words you type each day by pointing out some negatives.

Not Paying Attention to What You’re Typing

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Due to your infatuation with the increase of numbers with every word you type, it’s so easy to cease paying attention to your work altogether in favour of it. A large amount of errors you may not usually make can make proofreading later a bigger pain in the ass! We all make silly mistakes when writing anyway. You wouldn’t want to nourish that annoyance because you love watching a word-count increase.

Extending Sentences By Any Means Necessary

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This should be considered a crime against literature. Writing in detail and extending sentences beyond their usefulness are two completely different things. Staring at and overthinking about your word-count holds the possibility of birthing the latter, looking like vomit on a page – a first draft! The prospect of creating the first draft is daunting enough without accidentally making your work look like that all over again.

Discouraging

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Keeping an eye on the word-count can be the biggest form of discouragement if you fail to reach your goal one day or if looking at those small numbers makes the workload seem impossible to complete. There can be a heavy weight of negativity for some surrounding the norm of watching how much is typed every so often. Sometimes, it’s better to simply ignore it, get on with your story and be proud of your end-result.

Personally, I keep a page-count. I find word-counts are like looking at the tiniest molecules of a page and calculating how many each page needs before getting to move on to the next to repeat the process. It makes everything feel staggeringly tedious. But that’s just me. It works for some and it doesn’t for others. If you’re in the positive side of things, great! If not, alter your perspective by giving up the word-count and discover what works for you!

 

4 thoughts on “Positives and Negatives of Keeping a Word-Count

  1. Very interesting Dalen, I’ve always felt that a story is as long as it has to be. Look at Stephen King whether it’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon or The Stand, he doesn’t worry about word counts.

    I can usually tell before I sit down to write a story whether it’s a short story / novella / novel by estimating in my head. However that being said the story can surprise you, so why not let it?

    Glad to have you back man. 🙂

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    1. I see people keeping track of word-counts all the time and even I’ve tried it, but for me it’s just a reminder of how much effort I need to exert, I don’t need a reminder for that haha! A very interesting view, I too believe that a story is as long as it’s simply supposed to be but there are also times I find I can insert something extra without ruining the flow of the story. Glad to be back interacting, reading and writing! 🙂

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  2. Interesting, I never check my word count. Never even crossed my mind. I write them look at my page and feel it. I had to be aware of it for my book and even then.. as soon as I gave my word count to my publisher I forgot it.

    Interesting.

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