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What should we be counting?

Originally published at Cogs & Neurons. You can comment here or there.

Something I see a lot on the interwebs, is people talking about word count.  They’re either going to achieve a certain wordcount, or want to achieve it, or have achieved it, or are going to beat someone around the head and neck with it.  Well, I am here to overthrow the tyranny of the wordcount.  We as one need to rise up and throw off it’s oppressive shackles.

“Why?” asks a rather convenient straw man.

The thing about word count is that it’s dependent on writing speed, and that’s a very individual thing.  But it becomes a sort of measuring post of how dedicated a writer you are.  If you cranked out 900 words, then somehow you’re superior to someone who only got 500.  I used to be pretty happy with my writing speed and then I found out that Cat Valente can write an entire novel in the something like the time I need to take an average sized dump.  So that was a bit of a blow to the confidence.

And there’s no need.  You’re not going to do much to make yourself a faster writer.  And if you turn off the internet you’re not going to make yourself much slower.

So rather, I’d advocate we, as a community of writers, talk about the number that word count is really standing in for – the amount of time we spend writing.  Don’t spend your time killing yourself trying to get to 1000 words in a day if you need an hour to write 300 words.  Just try to maximize that writing time.  Because you will get there in the end.  If you just keep sitting down, keep cranking away, the thing will be written.  It’s inevitable.  And this isn’t a race.  Just taking part really does count.

So down with the wordcount.  Up with the “hours of bum in seat.”  The revolution has begun.

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