Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Important Is a Word Count Goal?

“Watching a good plot unfold is like watching a long line of dominos cascading down, each piece falling inevitably into the next and forming an unexpected pattern.” -- Lois Gilbert in How to Design an Irresistible Plot.

Today is a first (okay, maybe a second). I’m not going to comment on the posted quote. Why? Because I don’t want to. :)

Actually, I read something yesterday that stuck with me, but I can’t remember where I read it. The writer discussed her experience with NaNoWriMo. She wondered if she’d “won," because she wrote the required number of words, but across three novels. In the end, she did get to the 50K in one work and counted it as a win.

This made me think about writing to a word count. Yes, if you want to publish a book, you need to get the first draft done before anything can happen. In this regard, forcing oneself to write 600, or 1000, or 1500 words every day gets the writer to the desired goal as quickly as possible. But which is more important, writing 1000 lousy words or 100 good ones? I don’t know the answer. Here’s another question. Does it put too much pressure on a writer, especially one who doesn’t write for a living, to think he has to write X number of words every day? Can’t he feel just as good about crafting those 100 great words?

How do you count a rewrite? I spent nearly two hours rewriting a 500-word story this afternoon. I don’t know how many new words I wrote. I doubt it was very many, but the story is much better than it was when I started. I count that as a full day of writing, even though the word count wasn’t much.

How do you schedule your writing? Do you write every day? Do you write to a specific word count? Or do you attempt to write for a certain length of time? Do you get upset with yourself if you don't write every day, or meet a word or time goal? And if you get upset, how does that affect your writing and what does it say about your goals?

1 comment:

Koala Bear Writer said...

I've never tried to write by word count or watched my word count. Or even noted how many pages I wrote in a day. However, I've read many professional writers saying that they gegt their books done by committing to a word count each day. I think they spend other days rewriting, or rewrite after all the words are there. If it works for them, maybe it's worth a try. :)

Like that quote, btw. :)