Word Count: How much of it really counts?

Does setting a word count goal block the creative process or does it push us beyond our accepted limitations? Many writers will sit down and write so many words a day, all in the name of the perfect length novel. But does needing a certain amount of words create a certain amount of rubbish? How many of those words were really necessary? On the other hand, those who tend to overwrite might be cutting excess words with the help of a proper word count, using it to determine where they got a little carried away. When are word counts useful? What is their effect on progress? Who might find it troublesome or helpful and how so?

  • Very good topic. I would suggest for the writer who picks this up to look into requirements for getting published in the different genres i.e. Science Fiction and fantasy word count requirements vary from historical romance and so on. It would be worthwhile investigating this for research into the article. – mattcarlin 7 years ago
  • You make a good point. What's the point of setting a word count, marching through it with gritted teeth, only to end up deleting half of it in editing? It's very frustrating when all that hard work goes down the drain, but I think reaching a word count target can be comforting when you're trying to convince yourself that you can do it at all. It might seem like a dream to finish a novel, but setting that concrete 50,000 word goal lets you divide that into manageable pieces. And even if the end result is not its best, at least by the end you know you can actually do it. You've proved to yourself that you're capable. As long as the word count is taken as a guideline instead of a rule, I think it can be quite useful, at least for those still gaining confidence in their endurance in the writing process. – Sohini 7 years ago

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