Sunday, October 2, 2011

Word Count Experiment

So, SO, my lovelies. I finished a book.


I'm so happy ZAP is finished. I love this story and can't wait to start sharing it with other people. So, as I finished it yesterday, there has been much:


and of course:

But the point of having a blog post about it is I tried an experiment with this WIP. When I began, I wrote like most authors did-- with a sharp eye on my word count. But as I neared 60K and the end was nowhere in sight, I grew really nervous. I started entertaining horrible ideas of it turning out at 140K or 160K. I feared I'd have to cut my book in half. I was watching every thousand words go up, until I grew tired of it.

So I turned off my word count, and decided to write the rest of my first draft without looking at the word count.

For the first 10K, it was easy. I loved it. I wasn't worried about it anymore. But as I began explaining what I was doing to other writers, I got a similar shocked response: "Wow." and "I couldn't do that."

I started to understand what they were talking about. It was driving me mad, and I wanted badly to peak. I didn't, because I wanted to see what this effect would have on the length of my WIP. I began dreaming about my WIP coming out as 140K or 160K, and I was kinda back where I started.

I finished without peaking since 60K. My WIP turned out to be 119K words. Would it have been shorter if I'd been keeping a close eye on it? Probably not. I cut plot points that were in my notes because I didn't think they'd help. If I had written them in, it certainly would have been longer.

But what I did learn from all this was that writers are addicted to their word count. With good reason. It's how we communicate progress, it's used in publishing all the time, and there are restrictions. But with first drafts, I think its important if writers take time away from their word count. I admit, I did have the same fears, peaking or no, but there were times where I was finally able to let go. I didn't miss watching the numbers roll up one bit.

Try it. On your next book, turn off your word count. See how long your first draft comes out to be and compare it to your drafts you've had in the past.

Did you miss it?



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