Word counts don’t matter

One of the things we do at Hunter Romance Writers meetings is go over our monthly goals. We move around the circle, or the email loop, and give a rundown of the previous month’s goals then set our goals for the next month.  We’re a group of approximately a dozen writers and we come from vastly different life circumstances. We are also just as different when it comes to writing.

What I’ve learned over the past few years is that when it comes to goals and expectations no two of us are alike. And I think as writers this is important to remember. Just because one person writes 50, 60 or even 100K in a month, doesn’t mean that the person who writes only 500 words is any less successful. The same goes with daily word counts. And with the writing community on facebook and twitter being so active it’s easy to fall into to trap of comparing yourself to other writers. I’ve seen many a tweet like this;

 

Woot! 5K day, if I can do this again tomorrow, I’m done. *collapses* #amwriting

 

There’s always a ton of congrats responses, but often there will be a response from someone who actually has the courage to write what a bunch of other people are thinking. “5,000 words. How do you that in one day? I’m lucky to manage 500.”

I can almost see the self doubt lurking between the sentences. But here’s the thing … everyone is different. Heck, every manuscript and every day is different and we can’t think any less of ourselves because we don’t write at the same rate as someone else. Not everyone has the same processes, free time, or even motivation. Some people write because they can’t live without it, some people write as a hobby, and others as a career. But the thing we often forget is about writing is not every day is the same. Nor is every manuscript.

Some days I sit down to write and bash out two thousand words in an hour. Those days are rare, but they happen. Other times, I can sit at the keyboard for a whole eight hours and only manage a handful of words. That doesn’t mean I’m a failure though. It means that my story might not be as clear in my mind as on the 2K/hour day, or that I’m writing in a genre I’m not as comfortable with, or maybe I had to stop every few sentences to conduct research. It might even just mean that my creative juices aren’t flowing that day. Do I beat myself up about that? Sometimes. Should I? Absolutely not.

So guys, set goals that are realistic for you, right now, and when you achieve them, celebrate. New words, not matter if there are fifty of fifty thousand are all progress.

Stacey Nash (3)

Stacey Nash is a writer of YA speculative fiction and she really needs to learn to practice what she preaches and not stress about daily word counts. Her debut novel is set to re-release with Harper Impulse later this year. You can catch her via the usual mediums; website, twitter, facebook, or pinterest.

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10 thoughts on “Word counts don’t matter

  1. Stacey what a great post and its so true. I do find it both confronting and challenging to read what others have achieved. And it can be demoralising when you’ve either brain / emotionally dead from dealing with your personal or work life or your muse is on holiday and think, I should be achieving more- whether its more words, more releases, better sales, more promotion…. A timely reminder to sit back, take a deep breath and remind ourselves why we write. We’re doing something that we’re passionate about – and making lovely friends along the way.

  2. Great post, Stacey. My goal is 2k a week, and I always have a twinge of jealousy when I see how quickly others can finish a project, mostly because I have so many other plot bunnies crying for attention myself. But under the circumstances I know anything more isn’t realistic.

    • 2K a week is a great goal, Cass, and the fact it’s realistic for you makes it perfect. As for those plot bunnies, I’m beginning to believe that no matter how fast one writes, there will always be more stories than time to write them.

  3. I’ve begun writing again BECAUSE I want to … not because I need to catch up with others 🙂 Timely reminder of what IS realistic & what people need to hear Stacey 🙂

  4. Great post, Stacey, and your words are so true. Different days bring different situations so your daily goals should be flexible. And when you’re editing you won’t be doing much of a word count anyway.

  5. Great post Stacey – it can be demoralising to see huge word counts when you’re struggling to squeeze out anything. It’s good to remember we’re all different – and each day is different!

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