#wordcount — That’s the Twitter hashtag for writers wishing to chronicle their cumulative daily word count. It’s not surprising such a hashtag exists. After all, setting a daily word count has become one of those near non-negotiable writing rules. Usually, that number is 1,000 words, give or take, with an appropriate “off day” here or there. Thanks to “professionals,” seminars, and how-to books, the Daily Word Count has become etched in stone, so to speak, as a necessary writerly discipline.
It’s led to all kinds of “helpful” tools, like free apps to track your daily word count, tips for achieving your daily word count, and even ways to DOUBLE your word count. Hooray!
Confession: I’ve never adhered to a daily word count for myself. Despite this, I’ve managed to complete three full-length novels (one as-yet unpublished), a short story anthology, and a novella. Not to mention publish well-over 1,100 blog articles. All while working outside the home 40 hours a week.
Of course, this may be evidence that I’m OCD. However, I’d like to think it just exposes the squishiness of the daily word count advice.
This is not to suggest that setting yourself a goal and working to achieve it is wrong. At its essence, this is what the Daily Word Count is supposed to do — prod you toward completion. Which is good. But like any “rule,” it can become a shadow of the original intent and shackle writers to the “letter of the law” rather than the “spirit of the law.” Not to mention, it doesn’t always respect or incorporate the uniqueness of our individual personalities and stations in life.
Here’s three things I’ve used to replace the Daily Word Count mantra in my reperatoire, which have made my writing more fluid and fun.
Mike Duran is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, and is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike's novels include The Telling, The Resurrection, an ebook novella, Winterland, and his newly released short story anthology Subterranea. You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.