The Problems with Word Count

Since starting the 600K Year, I’ve been aiming to write an average of 1,800 words per day. I managed it pretty consistently through the chaos of November, failed pretty consistently during the chaos of December, and carried my December habits through to the first two weeks of January.

Which means that I’m now trying to write an average of 2,750 words a day. I’m not quite hitting it – yet – but I’m getting within a hundred words or so.

I’ve always been fond of word count as a productivity metric, but I’m conscious that it’s not without it’s problems. The first, somewhat related to Parkinson’s Law which suggests that work expands to fit the time available to complete it, is that your process expands to meet the word count expected of it.

Once I know how to reach 1,800 words regularly, I let the cracks start to appear in my process. I’ll stop writing to check a fact on wikipedia, or I’ll duck into twitter for a minute just to see what’s happening. An hour that could have been spent writing 900 words is suddenly spent writing 800, then 700, then 600. Which is fine, ’cause I’m hitting my writing goal comfortably, but it ignores the fact that I could be writing more.

The one thing I’m noticing, as a result of the 600k Year, is that I like writing more. I want to push myself and get more done, ’cause I love this gig and I love being read and, dear god, there are so many stories I want to tell and only so much time left to tell them in.

And now:


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