The frustration of word count

Writing is a joy for me. But one of the things that constantly gets in my way is word count. It isn’t that I can’t make a word count, it is that focusing on word count ruins my story. I have been typing for a long time, and that makes the typing come easy for me. But all the times in the past when I was worried about word count, I should have been focused on story creation.

I can type thousands of words about the inside of a room. I can generate astronomical word counts while the story never actually moves anywhere. And modern technology only exacerbates the problem. Every time I open a word processor, there is a running word count at the bottom of the page. It draws the eye and distracts from the most important portion of story creation: the story itself.

There are parts of my story that are often left out of the word count; parts like characters, locations, names, actions, consequences, and so forth for the simple reason that I haven’t created them yet. But if I haven’t created them yet, how am I supposed to write about them? And that’s the problem. Since I haven’t actually created the story, my fingers are on autopilot simply transcribing words that roll through my mind, spinning the lack of story around until it creates its own mud hole.

My current attempt to rectify this problem is by using a calendar to keep track of actually working on my story. At this point, I don’t want it to contain word count. What I want it to contain is a physical depiction of the work I am putting in to actually creating the story. New characters? Noted on the calendar. Settings? That’s a plus for me. Actions, events, interconnections, world building? Yep, all those things are included. Word count? That might actually be the antithesis of what I am trying to accomplish. It is rejected.


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I am a writer of words, a thinker of thoughts, a changer of genders, and a queerer of life. I am an antagonist of the ordinary; and while I do tolerate it, I also look at it with contempt.

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