Letting go of word counts

For the past few years I’ve assessed my writing progress by word counts, both in my beloved spreadsheets and here on the site in the sidebar widgets.

This stopped working for me some time ago. I talked about it a bit in one of my ROW80 posts. In each of my current works I’ve written myself into a corner and need to rewrite in order to get moving again. That isn’t necessarily a problem. I tend to be a ‘pantser’ as a writer, not outlining in any detailed way, and so the possibility that I’ll take a wrong turn and need to rewrite is always present. But in the rewriting, I often have to subtract words, and when I’m focused on word count this completely fouls up my ability to track progress. Or at least the ability to believe I’m making progress. I get discouraged and everything comes to a halt.

So I’ve taken down the widgets, at least for now. And I’m noting on my spreadsheets the days when I’m editing. I can’t make pretty charts and graphs out of those days, but at least I can note that I actually did some work. Since this has happened with every project I’ve taken up so far, I have to accept that it’s part of my writing process. I have to figure out how to proceed.

When I do figure that out, I’ll let you know. Until then I’ll be trudging along behind the scenes, with the hope that I can eventually write and edit some piece of work all the way to the end.


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