Monday, May 09, 2005

Do what works



Okay, I've got to ask... Is there really anyone out there who is so dense that they think someone using a word count goal will write just any words to reach that number? Like if we look at the count and find out we need another 100 words, why we could do that with just words starting with 'b' right? Big, bad, bounce....

Stop being so dense, people. Sure, sometimes the words we do choose to write don't work as well as we hoped. We get off track from the storyline, we go down a blind alley.... and tell me the rest of you don't do that as well? Oh, of course not. It's quality writing, so your little twenty words a week are always perfect, right? Yes, I am purposely being just as much over the top as the people who have been giving me the 'you can't write serious fiction if you force yourself to write a certain number a day.'

Ah, and there is the word. FORCE.

No one -- and certainly no number -- forces me to write 1-3k a day. I do it because I love to write and I have a story to tell. I know what I want to say in my stories and I go there. I don't waste time making certain I'm really honestly serious about what I’m going to write -- because, wow, it you aren't in just the perfect mood you might not get quality, right?

Do none of you read Holly's Blog, if nothing else? You notice the 'words came well today' versus 'the had trouble making the words today' posts right away. Some days she can get what she wants in a couple hours. Other times she fights for every word and only gets half of what she wants. Do you really think she's just writing down ANY WORDS to make those numbers? Or do you think it might be possible, having written 25 published books, that maybe she has a clue what she's doing, can focus on the writing, and knows what she wants to achieve to meet her deadlines?

Or is it that you just think I'm the one who writes the words without considering the story?

I'm starting to get really annoyed with whomever has started the 'well, if they are just aiming at numbers, obviously they don't care about the quality' argument. Anyone who wants to be published worries about both the numbers and the quality, and works at achieving the best finished project she can -- and, yes, with varying results.

It doesn't matter how you wrote your story -- all that matters is that you complete it and edit it into the best piece you possibly can. You can't fix a story you never finish. If setting goals -- word counts, hours, chapters, or whatever -- gets you to the end of the story, then you've done the right thing. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you have never finished a story or your much vaunted 'I write quality, not quantity' speech hasn't gotten you a single sale, then maybe you need to stop worrying about how others are working and figure out what's wrong with your own material. I can tell you right now it has nothing to do with how many words you wrote a day.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just two words for ya: Well put.

Jean said...

Well, especially on those tough word days, Holly writes a lot more words than get counted for the total. She has a lot of tricks to generate ideas, but few if any of those germination words wind up in the final count for the book.

As for me, there are days I have counted character "to do" lists as word count, but that's counter productive. All those words have to come out. So, for my ultimate purposes, I've learned it just isn't too bright to use that temporary mechanism.

Carter said...

If you don't write the words, you can't make the sale. Simple as that. If somebody wants to brag a little bit about how well they're doing, that's good with me.

For professional writers like you and Holly, of course, those words are what puts food on the table. You don't get the words, you don't eat. Maybe not quite that bad, but that's the general idea.

If you're making your goals, good for you. Let everybody know.