I’m weird about numbers. Everyone has their thing in every little thing that they do, and my thing with writing is counting. Those two things may seem incompatible, but they actually go hand-in-hand!
Word count is something that should both be tracked and ignored. Tracking is encouraging because it shows progress in its most tangible form, in my opinion; in this way, it’s encouraging. Also, tracking the word count can also benefit with goal-setting: words per day, words per chapter, words per book. I can’t imagine reading a book that has 500 words in one chapter and 15 in the next. (Actually, yes, I can. It was “Twilight,” and it was terrible.) That may work for some, but not for me. Obviously, there will be variance, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t aim for an approximate word count to keep the chapters’ lengths semi-consistent. So, there are benefits. There are also downsides. While word count can be encouraging, it can also leave me asking myself, “Have I seriously only written 200 words today? I’ve been sitting here for hours.” Word count does not take into consideration time for research, planning, rereading, editing, etc. It can’t show this progress, so it makes it feel almost as if it doesn’t exist. That little number at the bottom of the page demands my attention because it wants to be the most important thing, but that isn’t what it’s supposed to be. The story comes first. The writing comes second. Everything else in the world comes next. Then, the word count follows. I need to remind myself of this.
Counting words is a habit of mine, but I still can’t tell whether it is good or bad. The reason for all of this is because I did hit a new word count milestone about 30 minutes ago: 30,000 words! Every 10,000 words feels like an accomplishment just because I’ve kept going. This is the farthest that I’ve gotten in any of my novel attempts thus far. I do celebrate each of these milestones as I reach them because they really do matter to me. It’s not just about word count and tangible progress – it’s the fact that I’ve kept at it and am not giving up.