Word Counts, Odometers, R.A. Salvatore, and Making Good Time.

Well, back to the writing grind.  I’ve been hard at work on “The Cooper’s Son,” trying to complete the draft.  It’s going well.  I think that the fact that I have been reading some fantasy again has really reinvigorated me, creatively (thank you, R.A. Salvatore’s “The Companions”; thank you).  I just feel like I’m in the right mindset for the material, again.  It’s a nice place to be.  It feels good.

I once said that I didn’t worry about word count when I’m writing, since it seemed to me to be nothing but an artificial goal that didn’t really mean anything.  I thought it was just about getting the story out, word count be damned.  The story was as long as it needed to be.  Period.

But since then, I’ve been actually looking at that handy statistic that Microsoft Word puts down there in the status bar, and I’ve been able to use it as a motivational tool to keep me writing for the day.  I reach a point where I’ll say “I’ve hit the wall today, but if I can knock out another 500 words, then I’ll be at XX thousand,” and by the time I get there, I’ve usually stumbled onto something else that drives me well past that number.  By the time I hit a rough patch again, I can just go “well, another 150 words will make it an even XX thousand,” so I’ll push on to that goal.

If I get past that point again: great; if not, then at least I know that I’ve made my best shot for the moment, and I feel like I can step away for a couple hours or the rest of the day, depending.  I’ve found that doing it this way is allowing me—even encouraging me—to be more descriptive, to be more expansive in what I’m writing, and I must say that I can’t help but notice the improvement in the material.

The point is, rather than being a big (or little) menacing number staring at me, word count becomes like the odometer on a road trip with no fixed destination, or one of those books full of fun roadside attractions that everyone is supposed to see before they die, like the world’s largest ball of string or longest paperclip chain.  Those things that make the road trip more adventurous instead of just screaming down the highway at 80 miles an hour, seeing nothing but asphalt and traffic.

“I might not know exactly where I’m going, but I’m making good time!”

Sure, you may reach the end quicker, but did you enjoy the trip?

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