Sunday, November 3, 2013

Counting Words

Happy Sunday! Today's post is more of a question, than my opinion (imagine that, lol), and it's about word count. As you write, are you focused on accomplishing knocking out a certain number of words per sitting, or do you concentrate on completing a chapter or editing certain scenes, adding in movement and dialogue tags, etc., regardless of word count, writing until the word flow subsides?
Many new writers ask me about word count, and I suggest that they don't worry about that as much as focusing on completing the journey of their characters in a first draft. Of course if a publisher requires a certain numbers of words for submission, definitely meet those requirements in the end, but as you go along, are you constantly aware of that?

Of course, NaNoWriMo and others are great for encouraging writers to get the words out quickly, but I'm not necessarily talking about those ways of purging words. I'm more interested in writers who sit down to write, and chip away at completing the story over a period of time (more than one month). For the most part, are you someone who counts words as you write, seeing that meeting that number as a successful goal for the day?

Write on!


Unknown said...

When I first started writing my novel 2 years ago, yes 2 years ago, I was worried about getting the word count goal that I set for myself each day. I think that's why it has taken me 2 years. But now, I don't focus on the word count but more so, just writing, writing, writing. I try not to end my writing day without completing an entire chapter, meaning, I don't stop mid-sentence and come back the next day to finish that chapter. I have a great mentor who has helped me see the bigger picture when I write. I'm forever grateful for her.

G. B. Miller said...

For a while when I was writing my "Great American Novel" (I really did and got it published through a traditional publisher) I set a modest goal of every day I sat down in front of my computer, I would churn out at least 750 words for that day. Because I was so enamored with the story, I would always exceed that goal.

Three years later, my daily/weekly goal is to simply get something written. Doesn't matter if its new words or doing some editing, so long as I continue to work on the story when I open it up, I'll take it as moral victory.

Liane Spicer said...

I try not to focus on word count but just to set a minimum goal of 500 words per sitting. I always exceed that, and I have written over 5000 words a day when I'm really in the flow, but setting a minimum goal helps me to get focused enough to make significant progress.

Charles Gramlich said...

When I started, and for most of the first 15 years of my writing, I never gave word count much thought, except during the editing phase to try and meet specific word counts for magazines.

Lately I've been thinking about it more in an attempt to get my count up, to increase the amount I'm writing. this year marks the first time ever I will essentially keep an actual word count of everything I write. Who knows if I'll do it again next year.

Anonymous said...

For writing and editing, my unit of currency is the scene. I work on short stories, novels and everything in between on a scene-by-scene basis. The word count is just a check that I use to make sure some scenes aren't overly long or short.

Having said that, I'm currently obsessed with word counting, but that's because I'm doing NaNoWriMo and my inner editor has been disabled.

Marissa Monteilh said...

Yolanda, G.B., Liane, Charles and Captain Black - thanks! One size does not fit all and I see that by your replies. And I think NaNoWriMo does disable your inner editor, I like that. The process of writing is a mix of not focusing on word count, and then checking in to see how many words we have so far as a way of reaching our goals. Great going, writers!!

Anonymous said...

I focus more on completing a scene or chapter, rather than how many words it might take. I worry about the word count when the editing process begins.