What's in a word count?

I suppose many writers feel that counting words is a little bit like measuring quantity over quality. To some extent I agree. Writing a lot, badly, isn’t the ideal goal.

Except that in a world with so much distraction, so much choice for what else we could be doing with our hours instead of sitting down to write, having a measuring stick for any goal can be pretty useful.

For me, word count isn’t about quantity though. It’s not the number so much as the act of hitting it. And however small that number is, it is a small affirmation that today I am pushing forward. Today I am writing, whether 80 words or 8,000, today I am making that stride.

Words, words, words.
— Shakespeare
William Shakespeare, the master of words. 

William Shakespeare, the master of words. 

Yet striding forth isn’t always the way forward. Sometimes you have to walk backwards for while.

Sometimes you have to take a big old chunk of text, highlight it and press delete. And the notch on the measuring stick slides right back down. But that’s just an illusion. 'Delete' is still a key-press, still an affirmation that what you put down wasn’t good enough, and that today you will hit more keys and what comes out will be better.

Or not.

But isn’t that the point? It’s the act of doing that matters. And word count is just a subtle tap on the shoulder to remind you that, hey. You’re doing it. You’re moving words.

You’re writing.