Time Limit versus Word Count

Posted May 19, 2014 by Briana in daily writing, word count, write, writer, writers, Writing / 4 Comments

Typewriter Sitting in the Middle of a Field

As writers, daily writing is absolutely vital to our success as artists.

I’ve discussed the merits and strategies of daily writing before. There’s not much sense doing it again.

Instead, I’m going to share my new outlook on daily writing with you: focus on writing for a set period of time each day rather than a specific word count.

Why? Because it works.

I used to believe in making word count every day. The number varied from 500 to 2000 words, depending on my project at the time, and I made sure to reach that word count no matter what happened each day.

Or at least, I tried to.

The problem with writing to reach a certain word count is that life happens. For people like Stephen King, whose entire lives revolve around and are dedicated to the craft of writing, it’s easy to sit down and pound out 2000 words or more each day. For the common man or woman, however, this feat is far from easy.

I now write for half an hour each and every day. I don’t necessarily have to add anything new to my manuscript, but that time must be spent doing something related to my current project. For example, if I’m busy, I might spend this half an hour working on my characters or doing some research. That way, I’m still getting work done, but I’m not killing myself over it. I’m not stressing out about reaching some number.

Time limits are flexible. Time limits understand. Time limits help you focus without losing your mind; allowing you to write without taking away the fun of writing.

If you’re feeling overworked, why not drop the word count? Try setting a timer for thirty minutes instead.

What do you think about writing for a set time? What are your thoughts on reaching word count?

P.S. The Kurosawa Guide to Daily Writing, The Importance of Daily Writing, Finding Time to Write, and The Beginner’s Guide to Daily Writing.

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4 responses to “Time Limit versus Word Count

  1. Hm, you know you’ve got me thinking. I think it might be better to set a time limit rather than a word goal. When I’m writing a new book, my goal is generally 2,500 words a day, and I can do that, but when I don’t I get very down about it.

    Setting a time limit means I can focus on getting down what I need to, rather than worrying about how many words I’ve done.

    Great post, think I will start doing this now! 🙂

  2. A writing group I used to attend focused on word count. For an two hours we’d sit and write and gab. The “leader” would inevitably yell out “I’ve got 2,000.” It became a contest and quantity won over quality. If I struggled for two hours to perfect one paragraph successfully, I left still feeling lousy that I’d written so few words. I quit the group but It helped me realize that time is more important than counting.

  3. I’m never sure how to feel about competitive writing groups. Honestly when it comes to writing, I feel the focus should be on reaching your personal goals and doing better than the previous day. Otherwise you’ll never be satisfied. Thanks for commenting!