Fetishizing word count

Yeah, yeah, I know I haven't been writing at all lately. This is not about my life.

This is about things like this: Somebody realizing, Hey, you know, creative writing isn't just about cranking out a certain number of words. In fact, the cranking-out-a-certain-number-of-words bit is pretty much the least-creative part of writing!

Yup! That's the reality of writing--differs quite a bit from the NaNoWriMo attitude toward writing, doesn't it? There's this whole belief out there that you just gotta hit your word-count numbers, and you're gold, baby!


Do you know what writers-for-hire do? They hit the numbers. That is their job--someone else creates the characters, draws up an outline, notes particular long-range themes, and decides on the basic writing style. And then the lowly writer-for-hire--who typically gets no ownership stake in the resulting work--fills in the blanks.

It's not considered highfalutin creative work, and there's good reason for that. You can swap these writers out, and no one will notice.

Not that cranking out words is entirely devoid of creativity--the actual writing bit certainly helps me flesh stuff out and realize where the holes are. It's just creativity of a different sort.

I don't question that you can't call yourself a writer if you don't actually put words to paper. But that said, the vast majority of writers plan. They plan and outline and have a good idea of who the characters are and how the story is going to run before they start cranking out the words. This planning is very, very important, and it is highly creative.

(And, yes, I realize that there are the "pantsers," who claim they can just sit down and write and everything just magically flows out without any advance planning whatsoever! Amazing! They're like those people who claim they know exactly where every important piece of paper is in their rat's nest of an office. Unfortunately, 1. I don't believe it, and 2. even if there are some exceptional people who aren't kidding themselves about how well they actually function, having no organizational system does not work for most people.)