Word counts, counting words – and why am I bothering?

December 15th, 2021Posted by Nancy

Well, I made my target of 10,000 words in November for Nanowrimo, though I have done not a thing since. Even without any more writing in December, I’ll beat 2020’s total word count by a bit.

Does this matter? Some of the words aren’t very good. Some of them will end up having nothing to do with whatever the plot turns out to be. Is the whole process just in the service of persuading myself I’m accomplishing something when in fact I’m not?

I have no answers to these momentous, existential questions. I find setting word goals helpful because I’m the kind of person who goes to fitness classes rather than riding an exercise bicycle or lifting weights. I need outside pressure – or at least perceived pressure – to combat my natural laziness. At the very least, writing a bunch of words I end up cutting will probably net me more progress on the books than waiting for the perfect scene to write. In the process of just writing the next thing that happens in order to meet my target, I do sometimes discover something I hadn’t suspected about a character or a situation or a direction the story needs to go.

None of this resolves my essential problem, which is figuring out what to write not how to craft a good sentence.

I can make 35,000 words this year if I write another 1,700 words. Easy-peasy, as they say. So maybe I’ll try for that. But not today.

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