But it's easy to become obsessed. Some writers have a goal of writing a certain amount of words every day and get annoyed with themselves if they don't achieve them. Equally, if they exceed that goal, it's a cause for celebration. Many writers (including myself), take part in sprints, for example #1k1hr, which stands for one thousand words in one hour. It's a good way to push on, and if you're the competitive sort, you want to get lots of words down and try and beat the other writers you're #1k1hr - ing with. It's friendly, though, and a good way to get a chunk of words down.
I often find my gaze straying to the bottom of the page where my word count is displayed. I think it's become a habit now. Because I do so many things as well as writing, I don't set myself a minimum daily word count. I don't even write every day. But when I do, I more often than not write down my starting word count and my ending word count so I know what I've done for the day. Naturally, some days are much more productive than others, and I find myself massively productive when I have deadlines looming.
Whatever I'm writing, I'm always conscious of the number of words, which often is crazy. If I'm writing for a call for submissions, then of course I have to stay within the parameters. But if I'm just writing a story and seeing what happens, whether it ends up as a short story, a novella, a novel, etc, then I don't need to keep track of it. However, I still do! I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, to be honest. I do like to see what I've achieved (for example I totted up my word count for the year and it exceeded 175,000 words, and that was several weeks ago now!), so maybe that's it. Maybe I'm governing myself.
I don't think that's a bad thing, then. As writers, we don't always know what's going to happen to our words, to our stories, when they're complete. They may get sent off to a publisher and rejected, then sent elsewhere. Or they may be accepted, and we then have to wait quite a while before we see them published, and even longer before we're actually paid for them. So really, it's no surprise many of us watch our word counts so scrupulously. After all, because we may have to wait months, even years, to see our work come to fruition, we need an instant boost, an instant sense of achievement, otherwise we might wonder what we're doing it for.
What do you think? Do you check out your word counts all the time? Or do you just write and don't worry about all that? I'd love to get your thoughts in the comments!