The not so obvious reason for having a daily word count

I’ve found that when I sit down to write I like to have a target. It helps me focus. When I’ve got to get to work I usually only have two or three hours and I tend to accept whatever I get written in that time as my day’s worth of writing. On my days away from work it’s much different. I’ve got the time to spend five or more hours on writing. If the objective were just write until you are bored or write until you can no longer afford the time, I find I lose motivation. But, if I set myself a goal to write 500 words (a good day’s worth for me!) I’m much more motivated. I can check my progress, I can mark halfway, I have a quantitative measure of the day’s success. So not only is a daily word count good for ensuring you hit deadlines in the grand scheme of things, it’s also a powerful method for motivating you on the day.

The other benefit comes from hitting my daily word count hours sooner than my allotted time is up. I come away fresh and, most importantly, enthusiastic, knowing I’ve made real countable progress. I think it was Hemmingway that said you should leave the writing in the middle of the sentence so when you come back to it you won’t trouble yourself with where to start. A daily word count is much like this. If my goal is 500 words and I’ve smashed it in the first hour of a seven hour day, I’ll stop writing for the rest of the day. I’m happy. I’m not worn out. So tomorrow, when I come back to it, I’m ready to go again. Though every now and then I often find myself saying, ‘Let’s try for a thousand.’

Written on October 8, 2017