Monday, March 24, 2008

Counting the Words

Want to measure your writing progress? Count the words! Ernest Hemingway revealed he did just that in an interview with George Plimpton for The Art of Fiction: The Paris Review Interviews, Number 21. Of Hemingway, Plimpton writes:

He keeps track of his daily progress—“so as not to kid myself””—on a large chart made out of the side of a cardboard packing case and set up against the wall under the nose of a mounted gazelle head. The numbers on the chart showing the daily output of words differ from 450, 575, 462, 1250, to 512, the higher figures on the days Hemingway puts in extra work so he won’t feel guilty spending the following day fishing on the Gulf Stream. (63)

I remember political commentator William Buckley saying that all writers need are a mere 150 words a day—42 words fewer than this posting—to have an in-depth article in a week, a hefty short story in a month, and a novel in a year.

Counting the words seems like a good way to keep encouraged about keeping your progress in perspective. If it works for you, then do it!

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