Word count anxiety

There is an adage about writing a story until it’s finished and not worrying about how long or short it is-it’s exactly the length it wants to be.  Well, bullshit.  If that were the case there would be no use for editors.  I am very vigilant about word count.  I take my parameters seriously.  I want my novel’s over 50K and my novellas 30K-but that’s just me and that’s just writing, because unless you’ve written a 120K YA novel, I’m never going to notice what your word count is. 

My word count anxiety stems from my first experience submitting work.  I wanted to enter a YA writing contest and the word count for the piece was 35-40K.  The contest was for a novel length work, so I assumed that’s how long a novel length work was.  Jump to me sending Glimpse out to agents at 37K and getting schooled. “A novel isn’t a novel if it’s under 50K,” is what they all said.  I could practically hear them calling me a dumbass.  So now when I’m writing, I track it.  I have a piece of paper for each of the things I’m working on and I write down my word count every time I’ve written something, with a goal number at the end. 

Here’s my current problem:  I’m discovering that I’m pretty tapped out by 35K.  When I’ve written a story out to its end, for me, that’s apparently how long it wants to be.  This is where I’m at with Glimmer and it’s meant to be a novel, so while I can see where I could add another 8K or so to it, I don’t know where the other 7K is going to come from.  That’s why I decided to write on this other project for a while, because it is supposed to be a novella, so I’m not as afraid of not making it the correct number of words.

I don’t know if I’m always going to have this problem.  I wish I could be easier on myself in this respect, because I know I would most likely relax and get myself together and bang out 15K in a week.  Am I the only writer with this irrational word count fear?  I’d love to have a few comrades in Crazytown to commiserate with. 🙂

5 thoughts

  1. I can at least commiserate with your OCD-ness. I know nothing of word count, but I’m very familiar with the need for things to be right. 🙂

  2. LOL. I’ve actually been thinking about the best way to do the editing for *Glimmer* since the way we did it with Glimpse was actually kind of difficult…I feel like I missed a lot of things that way. You will have to send me an editable copy and I can highlight my changes in red and send it back to you. That way I can edit as I go, which will make it much more efficient. And I’m all about efficiency. 🙂

  3. Yes, I’ve been considering the best way to edit Glimmer too, because we won’t have 5 years like we did with Glimpse. 🙂 Of course, I want to feel like I’m doing a better job at self-editing this time around…

    We’ll chat about it tonight on our mom date.

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