Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wordcounts and the damage done

Every person is motivated by different things.

Some people see the words ascending on their project documents and it gets them high. As it is, my fascination with word count is more on the lines of seeing how many words it takes to carry something forth. Being a copywriter in advertising, public relations, and corporate communications, wordcounts are a big deal because sometimes the amount of words can make or break a communication piece.

From a corporate communications perspective, if a letter from a company is too long, you just blew through your budget on a letter than won't be read. If you make it too short, people won't bother paying much attention, even if it's vital information. In a print ad, although the body copy can vary, the headline rarely tolerates more than 8 words (and that's pushing it).

So my relationship with words varies from medium to medium and from project to project.

I enjoy writing, this is no secret and I wear that truth on my sleeve proudly. I like writing articles, essays, haikus, poetry, tweets, cheeky comments, and hand written letters. In this love affair with words, I treat them with utmost care, fully aware that sometimes you need a dozen words to let someone know something will be all right and also being able to burn the midnight oil in the delightful art of conversation.

As it stands, some people do fixate on word counts and measure progress quantitatively.

For me, I try to use the words I need to say what I have to say. That's why my first novel is 164K words while its sequel is 85K. That's why I have poems that are but four lines and others that are longer than some chapters I've written.

For some people, hitting 2Ks in a day is a worthy mark... it means there's progress, they can see their effort tangibly and that's beautiful. Because they found their motivation.

Other people break at seeing they only wrote 200 words in one day. They think themselves failures.

This is hardly fact and more often than not just reflection that the person has not found the right stimulation. I've taken months to write 3 pages and have churned out chapters in a couple of days. It's all to do with flow and how that story and those words are sitting within you.

Word counts are water and sunlight for the fields of certain writers and salt for others.

For me, it's a fun fact, but it's not what drives me. To finish 3 chapters shall always mean more to me than writing 5 thousand words, because I measure my progress in the way I feel about my story. I know what it takes to finish a song, a poem, a story, and a book. I know when it feels right and that's what I allow to dictate how I feel about a project. That's because my motivation is my own as your motivation is your own.

If word counts turn you off, find out what turns you on. Make a game out of it. Use something that makes sense to you and not something you read in a "How to write" blog and I guarantee you'll be happier, write more, writer faster, writer better and feel downright invincible.

Remember, this is your life and YOUR story. Don't let anyone else tell you how to write it.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.


  1. Good one. I for one don't pay much attention to word counts except for wondering wether it's too long for kid lit. Then again, I think of the ever growing word count on Harry Potter books and I breathe a little more relax. However, in my opinion, it means nothing to dish out 5,000 words in one day if on editing 4,000 get deleted. Wasted time and words if you ask me. And writing 200 words a day, every single day, produces 20,000 words in 100 days. So really, who cares about speed of writing? It's the quality and content that counts.

    On Advertising: The time when word counts REALLY DO matter. It's actually fun for me to work with limited word counts. I find that it really makes you maximize your writing so it communicates efficiently and "economically" (saving words and space). It actually helps when writing for kids and blogging (rarely people read a blog that's more than 800 words long; hey rarely one that's over 500).

    1. I can imagine that but I think wordcount doesn’t matter for the same example you gave. And I think EXACTLY the same. 400 quality words is worth more than 50K. I feel the same about limited word counts and it’s just another challenge to me. For me, the piece will dictate how short or how long and when I’ve finished, voilĂ , be it extensive or more to the point. ;) Thanks for reading, luv. Have to catch up with your blog sooooo much. Cheers