Are You a Word Counter?

This will be a very short post tonight as it’s late and tomorrow is going to be an early Saturday with kids and sports and birthday parties.

So, how closely do you monitor your word count when writing? Is it more important to you with longer works (e.g. novels) vs. short stories and the like?

I am in the process of writing my first novel, and while I have always kept an eye on my word count, I haven’t been hung up on it until recently. But, when I say ‘hung up,’ it’s not in a bad way. I’m not letting my word count drive my work. I won’t judge whether or not my book is a success based on the number of words in it. However, I have been using it as a motivator, and it has been working.

Tonight, I broke the 50,000 word mark. It is a significant milestone and I’m proud of it, more than any other word count number before it.

Word count been a motivator recently because I have been driving toward that 50,000 number, and it will continue to motivate me as I drive toward the next milestone. I have committed to trying to write at least a few hundred words every night. I don’t always find the time, but I have had much more success doing so lately.

What drives you to write? I’m not saying that word count drives me to write per se; it’s more the feeling of getting something accomplished. I also see the enjoyment of writing and storytelling as a motivator, but short term goals such as hitting a certain word count can help encourage me to go a little further each session.

Until next time – Chris

13 thoughts on “Are You a Word Counter?

  1. I am so very happy for you, having reached 50,000 words. I completed my first novel in January, and was quite happy, even though it is terrible. But, I decided mine was not a total waste, since it showed me I could write a complete story.

    But, you ask, why do I write? Because I must.

    Do I count words? Yes.

    But not in the way you are counting words. I get NaNoWriMo, and hope I can play in November. I have two or three plots I’m considering, and I will have my research far along, and my characters ready to go by Halloween.

    Lately, I’ve counting words, but for a purpose. I’ve been experimenting with Blake Synder’s beats, and putting in the devices at the exact point he call for them, whether the story is 100, 1000, or 15,000 words. That usually means cutting words, perhaps a scene in one part, and adding it to another.

    I wish you well on your writing. I hope you publish it.


    • Thanks so much and good luck with NaNoWriMo! Maybe I’ll try that with my next book. The hard decision will be if I go immediately to a sequel or if I start something completely different. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head, so who knows?

      • You can plan a series, right?

        Over on scribophile, a heavy critiquing site, I am floating the idea of a three or four book series. So, it’s not just a case of people wanting to see more, it’s a conscious effort to build a structure that will hold three stories.

        Good luck,


      • I definitely have some ideas for a sequel, but I also don’t want to hold anything back with this being my first book. I want to make sure I am putting out my best effort (leaving it all out on the table, so to speak).

    • Hey, thanks. I don’t know how those NaNoWriMo guys do it – 50k in a month. It took me a few years to get to this point, though I’ve written over 20k this year. I will be done with draft 1 this year!

  2. Congrats on 50K! I am currently at 35K-ish and hoping to get to close to double that. Why? I have no idea. I think I Googled “Number of words in a novel” or something like that, and I remember 70K. Will that make my novel “great”? Hardly. But I think it will get it in a ballpark that might deserve a little consideration. Godspeed my friend!

    • Thanks brother. I’m just under halfway through what I created in my outline, so I’ll probably be around 115k (before the inevitable cut down) when all is said and done. Sometimes I worry this thing will be a tome, but other times I think there isn’t enough.

      Either way, thanks for the kind words and grats on 35k. Once we are both published, we’ll have to compare notes on the dos and don’ts of the publishing process.

  3. I’m a word-counter on blog posting. I try to keep my posts under 500 words, and often have to revise “down.”

    Writing books, novels, stories–I don’t count words until I’m finished. Although sometimes I count how many words I’ve written in a day–just to remind myself, when I feel like I’m not making progress, that I AM making progress.

    When writing for assignment (magazine articles, newspaper articles) the editor specifies a word-count and I definitely stick to that, because if I don’t, I know the article will either be rejected or heavily edited so that it no longer looks like the article I intended to write.

    • Similarly, when writing my novel, I do a final word count at the end of a session just to show to myself that I am making progress.

      With blogging, I know that posts are supposed to be short, but I don’t word count. Whether it takes me 200 or 1000 words, I just say what I want to say, clean it up, and then be done with it.
      Thanks for the comments!

      • I don’t know that there are any particular rules— I know lot of fine writers who write much longer posts. Some things just cannot be said in 500 words.

        I make up my own rules (for various reasons), and I think every blogger should do the same.

  4. Sometimes, I check word count to see if my pacing is working. If it’s taking too long to get to a meatier part of the story, I’ll cut some details out of what I’m working on.
    My best motivator tends to be getting my characters into tense situations and needing to know what happens next. If I don’t write it, I don’t know, and it drives me crazy. Even if I have a plan, I find myself needing to write to a resolution.

    • I learned my lesson early on that, for me at least, I need to stay linear in my writing. By that I mean that I shouldn’t jump ahead to writing later sections of my novel and then come back because by the time the rest of my writing catches up to those later sections, I always scrap them completely.

      Word counts have been a secondary motivator for me. I have felt greater accomplishment by finally writing out sections that I had imagined when first conceptualizing the story.

      I recently finished writing a scene that I had imagined over three years ago when ideas for my book first started popping in my head. It was a great feeling.

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