August 15, 2016

Typewriter keys
On word counts

I’m one of those obnoxious people who like to tweet my daily word counts when I’m writing. Not all the time, I forget, but when I’m really into it, I do. It’s a way to connect with other writers out there, often under the #amwriting hashtag. It’s not about letting other people know how great I am or anything like that.

Word counts are peculiar things. Some pump out thousands of words per hour, with no real need to stop and think. Others need hours to write hundreds of words. There’s nothing good or bad about either, it’s just the way it is. Very personal, very much depending on your style.

My word counts tend to be on the higher scale. I often write between 1,500 and 2,000 words per hour, which is great, I think. I can do this because I have an outline to rely on, the cheat sheet that makes sure I know where to go next. On the flipside, I have hard to write for more that two hours in a row, then I need to let it go and do something else. On good days, I have energy for two, or even three, writing sessions. That means my daily word count, when I’m knee deep in a manuscript, usually ends up at 5,000 to 6,000 words. There’s not much energy left for other things when I write like that, so a more feasible output for me is 3,000 to 4,000 words per day. Again, this is when I’m knee deep in a manuscript, which is something I wish I had time to be more often. Currently, I’m struggling with 1,000 words per day, because of circumstances. There’s always something messing with the writing, isn’t there?

Anyway, that’s me. Other writers churn out a lot more, or significantly less. Some will have to rewrite a lot of those words, whereas others won’t. How many words that’ll change when you edit your work depend on your style, your editor, and quite possibly the moon and your neighbors bowel movements.

Don’t worry so much about word counts. When someone tweets a word count and you sit there wondering what the fuck’s wrong with you, and why you can’t write thousands and thousands of words every day, all year, take it for what it is. It’s someone reaching out and saying “hey, I’m writing, and I’d like to tell you that it’s possible to string words together, even though it’s bloody hard and painful sometimes.”

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.