Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Word Count

Since January 1st, I’ve been taking part in the 100K words in 100 days. We’re now just over three-quarters of the way through. This is the 78th day and I’m 913 words over target. However, not all of that has been added to my current ‘work in progress’. Without checking, I hazarded a guess that I probably did about 500 words a day, and then I checked – actually approximately 37K words in total, which averages out at 475 per day (so I wasn’t far out!). It sounds slightly better when I say I was up to Chapter 5 at the beginning of the year, and am now on Chapter 16!
The other words have come from blogs, and this is really the only difference the challenge has made to my writing habit. I’ve contributed to the weekly topics for two Facebook blog groups, and also challenged myself each Thursday to click ‘Random Article’ on Wikipedia, and write about whatever topic comes up. This hasn’t been easy at times, especially when you get a topic like the ‘Eparchy of Pathanamthitta’ – check out my blog on February 28th for that one! I’ve also prepared most of my blogs for the April A-Z Challenge.
So why hasn’t this challenge had any effect on my novel writing? The short answer is that I don’t write quickly. Why not?
The first reason is that I agonise over sentences, and over individual words. I can’t turn off my inner editor, even though this is a first draft and I know I will be revising it all thoroughly once the draft is complete.
The second reason is that it is not plotted in advance! I have a ‘vague’ idea where it’s going and some of the scenes it will include, but not all, so ‘thinking time’ is part of the process. I ended one chapter, after there has been a power cut in the house, with an almighty crash from downstairs in the kitchen – and then had to decide just what had caused the crash!
I also wrote about 3,000 words for the current chapter which took me ages (definitely less than 500 a day on those) – and then realised why it had taken me so long. I simply wasn’t happy with it. I thought this chapter was the right place for this scene but eventually I realised it was the wrong place in the story. Maybe all the plotting in the world can’t beat that ‘gut’ feeling that tells you something isn’t right.
I am in awe of people who can write 2K or more words per day but I’m not one of them.
Here’s my question: how many words do you write each day? Do you write a very ‘rough’ draft first, and then spend time pulling it together? Or do you agonise like I do?


  1. One of the hardest things I had to learn during my 30K challenge (admittedly way less than yours, but there's no way I could have done that) was to just write and turn off my inner editor. It's a hard lesson, but one that was very useful at the time.

  2. I turned off the inner editor during NaNoWriMo in 2011, but it then took me about 6 months to rewrite! I'm not really sure which is the best way -fast write and slow revise, or vice versa!

  3. I suspect they end up about equal.

  4. Generally I tend to be an agonizer. I want it to be perfect (ha ha) when I write it and not have to go back and fix it later.

    In most cases, I am a slow writer. A daily challenge like yours would not work well for me.

    My writing is so sporadic that I have no idea how many words I average in a day. It could be could be five all depends on the day.

  5. In the end, they probably do balance out, Jen, but when I was doing the fast write for NaNo, I ended up feeling irritated with myself, knowing how crappy my writing was!

  6. Debra, I'm the same - even though I DO go back and fix things later. I don't think I've ever written 5K in a day. During this challenge the most for one day was 1417, and the least was 133! I don't win any prizes for consistence LOL