Counting words…

Some of you may have noticed the little progress meter in the left hand column. It is a word count tool of sorts.

I have not obsessed about how many words I write each day, and I am fairly happy with my productivity. But I was curious enough to start tracking my output. And since the bar is in a very prominent position on the blog page, I figured I should explain it a little.

First off, the number of words represents the number of new first draft words produced since I put the bar up. I am not sure how to count story editing so I won’t even try.  I will be counting rewrites, but only if new first draft words are being added. I will only be counting prose fiction. This blog, writing for the day job, grocery lists, emails and the like will not be counted. I may count any poetry I happen to write, but those things are rare for me.

The red number is the “goal” number of words. The tool required that I include this. Most tools like this are geared for novelists with goal word counts. I don’t have a goal word count. Anyone that was concerned that I was writing a novella can now relax. I know that novellas are extremely hard for novice writers to get accepted. I may write a novella, but only if the story demands that I use that length to tell it. Just for fun I chose to use 200 words per day as a goal because it seemed attainable based on my productivity to date. The 21400 word goal reflects that daily word count extended to the end of the calendar year. If I exceed that number, fine. If I don’t reach that number, fine. I am really just curious about my productivity in a measurable form. First Draft Word Count.

The website that provided the progress meter also has a simple word count tool that I can paste any text into and let it count the words for me.

For example this blog post up to this point … is 354 words.

So, 200 words does not seem like much. I do find that writing a story is a little more difficult, time consuming, and rewarding than rambling about stuff in a blog entry.

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2 Responses

  1. I should probably keep better track of my own word counts – but there are so many variables. Sometimes I’m actually productive (that’s “sometimes”, not “often”). When I was writing the Good Guys story, I came up each morning at 4AM and wrote for a few hours, sometimes hitting several thousand words.

    But I will also spend loads of time revising, endlessly tweaking a word hear and there, which burns up lots of time that could be spent adding to my word count. So it probably evens out.

    I’ve pretty much come to accept the fact that I’m just not going to be prolific.

  2. Hey, David.
    I know what you mean. I am trying to increase my productivity by just changing some bad habits.

    Because I am almost never completely happy with a story I fell into the over-editing trap. I am trying to break the endless tweaking habit. What has worked for me lately is to do one of two things. If I am unhappy with the story I let it sit for a week, and then go over it one last time and send it out the same day. If I am not unhappy with it I skip the letting it sit part and just send it out.
    In both cases, if (when?) I get a reject, I will give it a one pass edit taking into account editor comments if any, and send it back out the same day.
    I haven’t forced myself to write fiction every day, but I am considering it. James Van Pelt has done very well sticking to his rule of writing at least 200 words a day. I think I average 200 words a day, but there are days when I produce zero. Most established authors comment that writing some each day is a must.
    I figure if I focus on creating good habits that the productivity will increase. I seriously doubt I will ever get within yodeling distance of the productivity of say, Isaac Asimov or Jay Lake.

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