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Do word counts really count?

It has been over a month since I last blogged. I would feel bad about this, but it's all in aid of a good cause – I promise!

As mentioned in my April Update I have been furiously working towards my first draft deadline at the end of June, and trying to fit this in around a holiday, numerous birthday celebrations, weddings, work and just general frivolity.

I told myself I would have to suspend all blogging activity until the end of the month, when I would emerge victorious and tell you all about it. However, a brief snippet of conversation with my other half prompted me to temporarily pop my head up over the parapet.

The conversation went somewhere along the lines of:

Me: “I wrote 5,000 words today!”

OH: “That's good.”

Me: “I need to write another 22,000-ish by the end of the month.”

OH: “Isn't it quality rather than quantity that counts?”

Me: Stunned silence for a moment. “Um, well, yes, but word counts give you something to aim


OH: “Oh right...”

He didn't seem convinced... so what should I have said?

I admit it seems bizarre, to focus on words rather than scenes or plot points. I'm quite sure I made a

similar comment once myself, before I started writing. But now i'm here, in the thick of it, trying to

get this story out of my head and onto the page, I LOVE my word count. In fact, my favourite tool

on Scrivener is the word count bar. I love watching it change colour, and I find that I'm not nearly as

productive without it in the corner of my screen.

I think perhaps it's because I know where my story is going. At this stage, I know what is going to

happen and I know which scenes I still need to write. And I know how many words a book in my

genre should have (on average). If I finish and I'm slightly under, or over, that's fine. It doesn't

matter, because fine tuning the word count is really for the editing stage. But, right now, it's that

number which is keeping me going. It's telling me how much I need to do each day in order to hit

my goal by the end of the month – and that is an invaluable piece of motivation.

For some people, word counts are demotivating. And that's okay. But, for me, you can't beat the

feeling that you're getting closer to your goal and seeing that number increasing is a brilliant way of

judging just how close you really are.

So, that's it from me for now – it's been brief but I promise the next one will be longer and

hopefully full of tips and advice on how to reach the end of the first draft!

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