Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Myth of 1,000 Words

One of the things you see a lot of, when you read author interviews, is how they all write 1,000 words every day.

That's true.

Sort of.

I believe most authors, when drafting, strive for 1,000 words per day. I know I do. Sometimes I get there, sometimes I fall well short, sometimes I go over. But the average is 1,000 words. And that's a success.

But when I get to revision, that's where it gets interesting. Maybe other writers can enlighten me, but I doubt most authors write 1,000 words a day when revising. For me, revising is scattershot.

Write a character sketch here. Outline a scene here. Cut 3,000 words here. Add 50. That's four days of successful revising for me, sometimes. I don't ever have a word goal when I'm revising.

I just want to move forward. Sometimes I get 2 steps forward only to go 3 back the next day.

So, yeah, writing 1,000 words a day is key--when you're drafting. But when you're revising, all bets are off.

What do you think?


mrsmica said...

Absolutely. The point of drafting is output, but the point of revision is organization and quality. Revision is a hybrid of brainstorming, editing, and only sometimes adding brand new words. Brainstorming takes time but does not add words, and editing usually cuts words overall. Most authors I know are looking to make significant cuts during revisions, reducing a novel manuscript by as much as 25% by the final draft.

David Cranmer said...

Yep, you're spot on. I hit around 1,200 a day when writing and all bets are off when revising.

John McFetridge said...

Some days all I can think of is Oscar Wilde's description of writing: worked all morning, put in a comma. Worked all afternoon, took it out.

Ben said...

It depends on the writer I guess. Some work like mongrels and revise at the same rythmn, some try to pace themselves. I try to go for 1000 a day, but end up around 600 to 1200

Dana King said...

I always wondered how writers could say that, for the reasons you made clear. Counting words while drafting? Sure. Editing? How would you even count them?

I still try to set daily goals when i edit, but it may be time oriented (I need to spend an hour today), or specific goal oriented, (fix the argument between Dick and Delbert, or work on Nick's dialog today, wherever it is.)

Anonymous said...

Not sure why you would even think the 1000 word count is included when talking about the editing process.


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