Fiery Hatred of Word Counts

("Flames" via Flickr, by steve_case)

I used to be very anti word count. I still am, in theory. I’ve never cared about the number of words written in a day—or a week or a month. It’s about the words themselves and the story formed out of them. Patting yourself on the back for writing an arbitrary amount of words in one day is all well and good, but you could have just typed “I am writing words these are words look at all the words” all day and you would have reached your goal just as well. That’s why NaNoWriMo is not my thing—tried it, “failed,” won’t likely try again. That’s why I’ve given myself chapter goals—i.e., must reach Chapter 9 by this date—but never word count goals.

Until now.

Yep. While writing my new novel 17 and Gone, I’ve starting giving myself a daily word count.

What made me change my mind? Besides a great desire to complete my first draft manuscript by deadline and needing a whole bunch of words to do it? I was inspired by another writer I witnessed working with a daily word count when I was away this winter. I liked his “method”—how calm he seemed as he moved forward, how he did reach his goal and made it seem so easy, and how he allowed himself to revise as he went and use those words toward the daily word count, too. I never liked the idea of slapping down words and not being able to work backward. I need to revise as I go. And I need to feel like I’m making progress—as feeling less panicked today only helps the words come out tomorrow.

So I started trying it. And some days I meet great success:

And other days, I stutter:

(Those screenshots are taken from Scrivener… which has a great Project Target thingie that is very satisfying to use. The bar starts out red… turns orange and yellow as you get out more words… and turns a happy green at the end. I love it.)

I’m still trying to find that Magic Number of words I should try to reach each day. As you can see, I recently upped my word count from 1,600 to 2,100. But this makes me fail more often than succeed, so I wonder if I should knock it back down to 1,600?

Tell me: Do you work with a word count? Or do you have a fiery hatred of putting a numerical value on your writing?

If you have a magic number, do tell.

Before I go and try to hit today’s magic number, one last thing:

• Tomorrow, I’ll be holding a giveaway here on the blog for my very last ARC of Imaginary Girls as well as bookmarks. Many Imaginary Girls bookmarks! I think I’ll give away bookmarks in three places: here, on Twitter, and on this Facebook page—you’ll need to “like” it first. But I’ll only be giving away the ARC here on the blog.

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