Over the course of recent weeks, I have become disillusioned with the idea of forcing myself to have a constant word count. Be it the myriad of other things competing for my attention during this stretch of time or perhaps the plethora of migraines that I suffered through (they were many), I wasn’t able to manage my writing time as properly as I should have. What did this mean? A GREAT deal of horrible things.
I’ve lost at least three day’s worth of writing, I’ve written myself into a corner at rates far more constant than in the past, and my sanity is being chipped away with every second I spend typing out this post. It’s just been getting to the point where I’m juggling so many duties at once that I have to spend at least half an hour every day to sit down, relax, and plan out my afternoon to be as productive as possible. A practice that has provided me with moderate success, to say the least.
In the past, I was used to cramming out a minimum word count of 2000 words, but for these circumstances, I’ve had to reduce my standards to half of that, which still dismays me to this moment. But being the brimming, glorious bastion of optimism that I am, I decided to see if there was a bright side to all of this. And this “Eureka” moment, came to me as a single realization.
A daily word count does not matter.
Now, before any of the more eager members of my audience come to the conclusion that they should start lowering their word counts, allow me to clarify. Daily word counts are not bad.
Did you hear me there? I can still see that some of you are about jump out of your beds to start reconsidering your word counts. If so, then let me stress once again. WORD COUNTS ARE NOT BAD. In fact, they are really good. I find that they are among the most effective methods to give a writer a short-term goal they can aspire to, without being too simple that it makes an author disengaged with their work. I’d argue that most intermediate writers should try to aim for a daily word count equal or above 1000 words (some people can’t work like this, which is fine. This is a generalization.).
But despite how effective they are at organizing your progress on a novel and forcing you to write when you don’t want to, scoring lower on your daily word count does not mean that a session was unproductive.
You see, while when life was getting in the way of my writing, I started cramming out REALLY low word counts. I’m talking as low as 500 words here, and there were days where I did even less than that. And sure, there were plenty of times were I was disappointed in myself for not writing more, but at the same time, I enjoyed many of these short sessions. I had moments where I could picture everything that was occurring in those 500 words as though they were a movie inside of my mind, and I was able to transmit them into my novel in the same vivid way.
And on even more occasions, I was more satisfied with that crappy word count than I could have been with my standard 2000. This is because the prose I was making there was masterful! (If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know I’m a very humble person)
So to me, creating those 1500, 1000, or 500 word scenes gave me the sense of Euphoria that came whenever I slaved through my usual 2000 words…maybe even more!
And the fact still remains, much of that prose you crank out in your daily word counts is going to be erased from the final product. But when I create something so great in just 500 words, I know I probably won’t end up erasing it later on, because it came out so well. So in a very technical sense, the days I was satisfied with a smaller word count than usual amount to actual progress, when compared to 2000 words I could vomit out on a daily basis.
But don’t take my advice to its logical extreme! The only reason I wasn’t cranking out my usual 2000 words was due to the various other responsibilities that occupy my time, the headaches that seize me on a weekly basis, and the occasional smattering of laziness. And I can tell you that only two of those excuses in the list are actually valid.
I’m not saying you should be rid of daily word counts, since I myself hope to get back to my usual stride once I’m done with all this stress. What I am saying, is that you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not reaching a daily goal. It happens to the best of us, and if there are people who claim it doesn’t happen to them, then rest assured, they are liars :D.
As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.