Are Daily Word Counts Harmful to Your Writing?

On my morning training ride today, I planned to cycle 24-25 miles. Easy flats, some rolling hills. Nothing too hard, something fun. I didn’t want to tire my legs out for a possible run tomorrow.

This steep hill to climb while cycling is like forcing daily word counts if you're not physically or mentally ready

So, once again I bowed out of climbing THE hill. Riders zoomed past, intent on climbing a hill that, until recently, wasn’t even paved. Until a few months ago, it was part of a dirt trail on a mountain. But since the road was made, no matter what, cyclists seem to feel the need to climb it with every ride, even if hill workouts are not on the day’s training plan.

For some, it feels like cheating to turn around at the end of a winding desert road that dumps out at the base of a gorgeous hill climb. There’s a certain sense of toughness that goes with making it to the top of the climb. (And, I might add, burning legs and lungs).

But I didn’t let it bother me.

It’s not on my training plan today.

This sounds a lot like daily word counts in writing!

Plenty of writers have daily word counts as a goal. The daily word count goal may have nothing to do with the brain’s current creativity needs or the daily writing goal. Maybe the writer needs to focus on a particularly difficult scene. Or needs to sit back and visualize a scene, looking for ideas, plot holes, insight. Trying to stick to a daily word count in these situation can impair creativity. It can take you off your writing plan.

And, for some, the word count becomes a stressor, which in turn can hamper creativity, leading to burn-out or worse. Have you been told that daily word counts are a “rule” for being a good writer? Check out this great quick post on why some writers abandon these so-called mandatory rules. And here are some links to tips on reducing the risk of writer’s burn-out and ensuring your emotional endurance is well fueled.

Word counts are awesome, don’t get me wrong. They can keep writers on task, especially if the focus keeps a writer focused, away from social media or other distraction.

Word counts are fine as long as they serve the creative purpose. But don’t be afraid to let them go when it isn’t part of your writing plan for that day. 

Happy Writing

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