Word count anxiety – Writing nightmare #4

Word count anxiety – Writing nightmare #4

Do you remember last November, when all I could talk about was NaNoWriMo? Well, after that first experience, I have been crazy enough to enter Camp NaNoWriMo in July. It works more or less the same way, the main difference is that you can set your own goal so that you are not bound to the 50000 words threshold.

I set a 30000 words goal, which means more or less 1000 words per day. Not impossible to accomplish, right?

On the 1st of July, when Camp started, the writer and the scientist in me woke up. The writer started planning characters, choosing names, setting a world and writing random scenes. The scientist became obsessed with statistics.

At first it was only about reaching the daily goal of 1000 words, but after a few days my inner scientist began keeping track of how many words I wrote in each writing session, how many words I managed to write in an hour, how many words beyond the par I am… and “how many?” became a constant litany in my brain.

Beside that subtle pleasure, that one every writer experiences, when that little number at the bottom of the page increases, is it right to be so obsessed with word count?

I mean… setting a goal and a deadline is important (actually it’s the only way I have to force myself to put my butt on the chair every single day at least for an hour) but what about content?

When my word count psychosis started to run out of hand, I took a step back. Is it worse to write less then 1000 words each day or to write 2000 crappy words that I will have to rewrite completely?

After a quarter of an hour of brave fight between the writer and the scientist, the writer triumphed. I will do my best to reach my goal, but I won’t be obsessed with word count anymore. Period.

What about you? Do you struggle with word count? I would love to know what you think!

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9 Replies to “Word count anxiety – Writing nightmare #4”

  1. Irene, I’m writing a lot of crappy words during Camp NaNo. I know that if I don’t, I’ll never finish the story. So yes, this manuscript will require a lot of editing, but I’m determined to press on and finish.

  2. I purposely set my goal at 10,000 just because I wanted a goal I could easily reach without making myself crazy. I get obsessed with word count, too. 🙂

    1. That’s a good strategy. I choose 30k because it is going to be a long work… I’m already around 10k words and it’s just the beginning.

  3. I’m not doing camp but I recently decided when I’m writing a 1st draft to try and write a minimum of 500 words a day. This I can easily hit and I do keep track of how many words I write but only on a daily basis. One writer I know figured out just what time of day he was most productive and pretty much now only writes in that time period. Me, I just write/edit whenever I can 🙂

    1. 500 word is a good daily count! I write when I can too. Usually I reread the last one or two pages from the day before at breakfasts and I do a minimum edit so that after work I am ready to start writing directly.

  4. Irene I did the Nanowrimo challenge last year and I did get obsessed with the word count. But my story came out as crappy as it was, it is something to work on. I finished with a few days to spare and was excited to at least finish. We all work in different ways. A crappy first draft is better than nothing.

    1. Of course it is!
      For Camp NaNo I decided to write directly in English and the result is as crappy as possible… I will have to work a looooot on that 🙂 But I am glad to have a schedule and a deadtime, even if word count is a bit obsessing 😛

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