-- 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 Despite this, I've managed to complete three full-length novels (one as-yet unpublished), a short story anthology, and a novella.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.
As Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” The bottom line issue is that writers write. You MUST get words on a page, inspiration must find you working, whether it's by following a daily word count or ad-libbing. If adhering to a daily word count is not working for you, you might consider stepping back from your writing. Maybe it's time to look at the bigger picture, readjust to your station in life, or simply give yourself the freedom to hone the story as opposed to bulking it up.