Word Count For Writers

Painting of a girl writing

I write daily at least 500 unique words for my story, even on those days when inspiration is fickle, and the hand is heavy, and the head under the hat is dull, and the planet seems to rotate a little slower than usual.

Many famous authors had a daily word count:

Is a daily word count forced labor?

It might seem so, but the moment I begin handwriting or typing I forget all about my word count, and I just write. When I stop my daily word count is always surpassed, even on those days when the writing goes slowly. On good days I write more, on bad days I write less, but always at least 500 words.

What’s the point of having a word count if I surpass it anyway? A word count is a resolution. If I go to bed every night knowing that tomorrow I have to write at least 500 words, I set myself a goal, and when I wake up, I know what I have to do. Without a word count to keep my on track I would procrastinate.

More than 500 but less than 2,000

500 is the minimum. I have to rewrite much these days, and if I would write more, I would not have enough energy for rewriting. When I will be done with rewriting, I will increase my minimum daily word count to 1,000 words.

2,000 is the maximum. Writing too much might be almost as bad as not writing enough. After writing 1,500 to 2,000 words I lose my focus, and I start to write too fast, using too many words to say too little. When writing feels like writing and no longer like spellcasting, I stop.

In the end…

Having a daily word count helps me make writing more of a daily habit. How much I write daily can change – it all depends on how much time for writing I have, and on what I want to write. The important thing is that I have a word count that gives me a daily goal to reach, and that makes it easier for me to measure my progress.

Do you have a daily word count?

 

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33 thoughts on “Word Count For Writers

  1. Thank you for this. I was discussing this with my husband today, writing in my chosen niche. My subject is non-fiction and I may settle on 300 words a day for that subject.
    Thanks again, very helpful. Love the art.

      1. ‘Tis morning now, and having just tended all my animals, I’ll write something for children on my blog, thecrowandthepebble. Later, after a bicycle ride to a field of willowherb, I’ll write a “Letter from Darylann” to them. 😀 Then, there’s the unknown writing that will just come to me.

  2. “It might seem so, but the moment I begin handwriting or typing I forget all about my word count, and I just write. When I stop my daily word count is always surpassed, even on those days when the writing goes slowly. On good days I write more, on bad days I write less, but always at least 500 words.”

    I agree with you there. I used to write 15-20 pages per day when I was in the groove, but after a certain point, I was just writing because I didn’t want to stop. If you are going for quality, there has to be a limit. I think the 500-2,000 words per day mark is healthy.

    – Augustus Manatee

  3. I would think it is far more a matter of quality over quantity. Why write when, at the heart of it all, you don’t have anything to say. When people talk about word counts etc, I just think of “For sale, baby carriage. Never used”. 500 words seems a lot of words and a lot of temptation to waste them.

    1. I think it really depends on what you are writing. For poetry it might be much, but not for a story with 200 characters. And when you are writing a big story there’s a lot you have to say. I’m never really out of ideas, only that sometimes I write them more slowly.

  4. Just on stories alone, I’m not too sure. I questioned this myself a few days ago and did a little bit of research on what I had written. Between blog entries and comments, personal journal entries, and writing in short stories, I would have to say one day was over 5,000; another was over 3,500; the third day that I checked was nearer to 7,500.

    1. I find that when you first begin to write a story it doesn’t really matter how much you write, so long as you write daily.

      All in all I write a few thousand words myself every day.

      1. Writing is always healthy. I was curious about how much I had been writing. The numbers were actually fairly shocking. It’s quite easy to lose track and simply write, no matter what the topic.

  5. It’s difficult to use word counts without losing sight of the goal. You don’t appear to have that issue. I’ve seen word counts as the excuse for horrible writing…no focus on the quality of the effort. I think a daily discipline is very important. I wish I had one.

    1. They do, but sometimes they also make you feel like an old, old man, which I am not sure whether it’s good or bad.

      Drink a lot of water if the weather is hot! And complement the protection provided by the hat with a parasol! Julia must return unharmed from her trip. The fate of this journal depends on it!

  6. I think having a daily word count would be a good idea for me—depending on what I’m working on. I could definitely use more structure in my writing life. And Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a great book.

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