Word & Page Count

You live with goals and targets. It facilitates life when you have something quantifiable to reach for, a set destination. But you’re going on a rhetorical journey here, not a physical one. There are no participation trophies, and you don’t get a gold medal for writing more or less pages than the next guy. But this is something you have to overcome. Think of it more like this: writing is what you do once you reach your destination; once you’ve gotten to your campground and set everything up; once you’ve gotten to the Grand Canyon.

How does this relate to word/page counts? There isn’t an objective length that a book or chapter has to reach in order to be a good book/chapter. Sure, certain genres of books tend to be similar lengths, but even within the genre the books differ. So, how can we say “I should shoot for ___ words for my book/chapter!” with any degree of confidence? How long should a book/chapter be? However long as it takes to tell the story. Once you start writing the chapter, you will find out how long it needs to be. You’ll go through one draft, then revise it, then rewrite it, then revise it…wash, rinse, repeat. Once you have written all your chapters, you’ll find out how long your book is and not a moment sooner.

When I first started to write, I fell into the same pitfall: How many words on a page? How many pages in a chapter? How many chapters in a book? How many books in a series? Having such definitive goals appealed to me. Especially as a veteran. Every aspect of the military is goal driven, with set, quantitative goals that not only define a service members’ success, but their quality of service as well. The same goal-driven lifestyle can be seen in the corporate world as well. However, the only goals in writing that you should set for yourself are temporal—write 5,000 words before Friday, make revisions over the weekend, write synopsis before lunch.

Your time is valuable. Set goals that matter.