Last night I was working on Chapter 8, and I kept glancing down at the little word count bar to see if I had reached my goal. I was close but I wasn’t satisfied with the direction of the chapter, and decided to let it rest and revisit it in the morning.
While I was trying to fall asleep, thoughts about that chapter nagged me. Did it have any merit? Should I worry about chapters and just make these scenes, should I aim for 100,000 words or maybe 80,000 for the entire manuscript?Should I stop worrying about word count and just write the scene and let it develop organically?
Because this is an entire “do over” and it’s very different than previous versions, I finally decided not to worry about the word count. I’m still outlining, I’ll still keep my chapters as they are, but I’m not going to worry about the finished product until I get there.
I’ve notice that there seems to be much concern about word count that it become a distraction. The notion of writing X words a day is to get into the habit of writing daily, but maybe it shouldn’t be X words, but maybe a quality scene or a chapter (whichever you want to label it). There will be days that a chapter might be 500 words or 2,000. Do those 500 words make it an unproductive day compared to the 2,000 word day? Maybe those 500 words are extraordinary whereas the 2,000 words are nothing but crap.
Here’s my take on the whole word count debacle and I leave you with these sage words: stop worrying about it. Worry more about moving the story forward. Don’t force the scene’s conclusion to meet a word count, just end it when it fulfills the chapter’s goal.