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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

When Word Counts Don’t Count


How many more words will I have if I change his name to Romeo Julius Anthony?

How many more words will I have if I change his name to Romeo Julius Anthony?

1,666 words a day. That’s all that matters if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. 2,000 words a day is the target if you’re Steven King.

Challenging yourself to write a certain number of words a day can give you the incentive to break through resistance and get your butt in the chair.

But word counts can work in only one out six stages of the Creative Process. If you’re not generating new material, word counts are just a stick for your Saboteur to beat you with.

Five stages out of six, word counts are irrelevant at best and a set-up for frustration, self-recrimination and resistance at worst.

How do you count words when you’re doing research? How do you count words when you’re editing and the goal is to tighten the piece, i.e. reduce the word count?

This is one of the reasons I use the term “Product Time” instead of “writing time” and why I recommend you make commitments to show up for a specified amount of time, not a certain number of words.

What goals you should target depends on which of those six stages you’re in. I explain the stages of the Creative Process, how they differ and how you can move through them more effectively in the free class Six Stages to Successfully Complete the Creative Process at Chanhassen Library on November 23.

If you can’t make it to the class, I also discuss the stages in Chapter 4 of Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance.

Do you know what stage your writing project is in?

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3 Comments on “When Word Counts Don’t Count”

  1. Joel D Canfield November 7, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    When people ask me how long their book should be I ask them “How many minutes do you stay on the train?”

    The answer is “That’s the wrong way to measure.”

    Consider yourself newslettered. Again.

    Like

    • rosannebane November 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      Thanks Joel! I love the question about the train trip.

      Like

      • Joel D Canfield November 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

        Though this new title makes more sense, I loved the meta-Freudianicity of having a number for the blog title.

        Like

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