Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Word Count Junkie

Hi, my name is Nola (Hi, Nola!), and I am a word count junkie.

My first time was NaNoWriMo 2007.  It was great - a blank sheet of paper that I filled frantically over the course of 30 days.  It was good to be a junkie then, that was what NaNo was all about - those 50,000 glistening, glittering, brand-new words.

I told myself word counts were only for rough drafts.  Like in NaNo, they were a way to track my progress when progress shouldn't be measured by quality.  And for awhile, that was OK.  I dutifully tracked my words for each new story, for each new novel.  I checked the count before and after each writing session.  As long as the after was bigger than the before, it was good.

Then I started playing games with it.  "Just a few more words and you'll have an even 1000 for this session."  "Only 400?  Is that the best you can do?"  "Let's see if we can get to a nice round number."  "Just 50 more and you'll have crossed the threshold into the 5600's."  I needed more and more.  I began counting words per writing session, words per week, words per month.  I count new words, revised words, even blogged words.  And like any good junkie, I get excited as the number gets bigger and bigger.  I get nervous if it hasn't changed in a couple of days.  I've even started getting nervous if the difference over a period of days isn't big enough.

Recently, I've even started using the time log.  Now I can count words and minutes.  And I do . . .

Is there a cure for such madness?  I don't know that I want it if there is.  I just want more words. . . 

2 comments:

Laura Bradley Rede said...

Ah, Nola. The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. You're a brave, brave girl. Sadly, I can't help you because I don't have that addiction. I'm more like "Oops, I have to slap a word count on this puupy before I send it out. Guess I better look at that." Do you think word count obsession makes you write more? In that case, embrace that eccentric little quirk. If, however, it just makes you crazy, I'm prepared to perform the exorcism at our next meeting. Um, I mean the intervention...

Nola J Moore said...

Haha. . .

It's actually quite motivating. I pay the most attention to my WC when I'm having trouble. It's a way to push myself a bit, and to notice what I have accomplished. It's especially helpful for me right now, as I am working in short bursts on a lot of different things - I can see progress, and also where I've spent my time.

And then there's the adrenaline rush when you really get going, check the WC at the end of the session and get to go "damn, I did good!"