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  • Writer's pictureDale Thele

We’ll Be Counting Words

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Most writers have a daily goal to write a set number of words. Those goals can vary between writers. Here are examples of some famous writers' daily word count goals.

Ernest Hemingway: 500 Words Stephen King: 2,000 Words Jack London: 1,500 Words Tom Wolfe: 135 Words Mark Twain: 1,400-1,800 Words W. Somerset Maugham: 1,000 Words Anne Rice and Arthur Conan Doyle: 3,000 Words

As you can see, famous authors have different word count goals. How are your daily word count goals working out for you? Are you achieving your goals? How much of your daily writing gets “red-inked” or pitched into the trash? What percentage of your writing is salvageable?

So, here is my question: are daily word count goals productive or counterproductive?

I can see by setting word count goals the act itself motivates a writer. A writer enthusiastically begins the daily writing routine working diligently until reaching a predetermined number of written words. This approach can be intimidating or counterproductive, especially if the writer is experiencing writer’s block or unsure what should happen next in the manuscript.

In determining a daily word count, would an individual who writes by hand share the same daily word count goal as someone who uses a typewriter or even a word processor? Writing by hand is a much slower process than using a word processor. However, it’s been shown handwriting increases creativity and deepens thinking, keeping the brain sharp as well as increasing comprehension. (Oxford Learning)

Time restraints are essential for setting word count goals. Some writers have more time than others. Suppose you work a full-time job, and you have a limited amount of time you can allow to write. Same for a stay-at-home parent taking care of a child or even homeschooling. Unless you are a full-time writer like the ones listed above, you may not have the time to devote to your writing.

How about quantity over quality? A daily word count goal may produce a set number of words, but is it your best quality work? It takes time to cultivate a quality manuscript. So, is one sacrificing quantity over quality by limiting self to daily word counts?

I’m not saying daily word counts are right or wrong, only YOU can decide after weighing the pro and cons. As for myself, I’m a proud pantster who writes in fountain pen on paper and I do not set daily word counts for myself. However, each morning when I sit down at my desk I set a goal for that day—maybe it’s completing three chapters, maybe just one, I don’t set a word count for myself. Of course, I’m not a New York Best-Selling Author either. But I do crank out a book or two every so often.

The point I’m making is that maybe you should take a closer look at daily word counts, are they working for you? If so, kudos to you. But, if you’re like me, an individual who has found a process that works for you yet goes against what’s being preached, congratulations. Writing is personal, each writer has their own way of doing things. There’s no right or wrong way how to write, just get the words down in whatever manner best suits you.

(Yes, this post title is a spoof on OneRepublic - Counting Stars)

I would like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment in the Comment Box at the bottom of the page.

Bestselling Fiction Author

Stories with an LGBTQ+ Twist

corrupting readers since 2008

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