A. E. here, and today’s “On Writing” advice post is about Words. You know, what you write down if you want to be a writer. And as a writer, you need to write a lot of words. However writers are individuals, and we don’t all write the same way nor do we all write at the same pace, some writers are prolific and some writers need more time.
It’s all good.
Writers use a variety of different tools and different methods to get the writing done. Voice recorders, typewriters, laptops, desktops, memo pads, legal note pads, Google Docs, Scrivener, Word, whatever. It doesn’t matter what tool or method or speed or lack of speed you write, as long as you’re writing.
So first off, that means you shouldn’t compare how much you can write in a hour to how much another writer can get words down in a hour. It’s not a contest! If you write then you’re a writer, and that’s all you need.
As for me, I can get a lot of words down in a short amount of time. My normal is 1300 words in an hour and I’m not lying or bragging or anything like that. I can type fast and I’ve been typing for a long time, that’s all. Typing fast doesn’t mean I’m a better typist either, I make plenty of mistakes, both typos and plot holes!
But the main thing is I’m typing so fast because I don’t actually care what my words are like. I’m getting the words DOWN. And once the words are down, then I can go back and edit and tweak and revise and shape up.
Writers who only make like 50 words an hour or 200 words an hour, it doesn’t mean they’re bad writers. But it most likely means they’re trying it put down the perfect word, rather than write down crappy words, and make it perfect after. A normal day for me is writing 10k to 15k words, because I type all day and I type really, really fast.
But you know what? All of those words are mostly crap.
And there’s so many spelling errors. And there’s random switches of point of view. There’s bouncing from past tense to present tense and back again within the same sentence. Lots of passive voice. And that’s okay.
Because then the next day I get to dive in and FIX everything.
The point is getting the words down in whatever misshapen sloppy way they came out, and you prettify them up later. Straining to get down beautiful perfect words at first is why some writers can’t write more than a few hundred a day.
Don’t try and make perfect words. Make the words first. Then once the words are down, you have something work with.
And again, don’t compare your word count to someone else. I didn’t even care about my word counts until I started doing National Novel Writing Month (a world-wide writing event that takes place every November) a few years ago, and learned about it and learned how to count it and input it on the site. Before that, I got my writing done and that’s all.
For the writers who are reading this, regardless if you count your words or not, it’s not really about how many words you write in an hour or in a week or whatever.
It’s the fact you get the words written down at all. Get them down first, and then edit them. The quantity isn’t what matters and it’s the quality that we’re aiming for. That quality writing doesn’t come until you write, and edit and rewrite and then the words are quality.
And as always, as I write my cat Aomine keeps me company by my side.