What’s Your Word Count? It May Reflect Your Style.

I just recently wrote about Colum Mcann and how his recent New Yorker article triggered my creative juices and awakened my curiosity about the world in general and the writing world in particular. As I watched an interview with David Brooks–one of my favorite essayists–on Q&A tonight, I was again charged up to get back to my keyboard and push myself out of my best intentions and actually write. One of the things he said reinvigorated my sense of belonging and self acceptance in the world of writing. Actually there were many points he made. The first was that he confirmed that writing is terrible and hard. It’s work, people. Unforgiving moody, vacillating in submission to your will, erratic, and glorious. Like some drugs. And, like coming down, you cannot be left with the illusion of greatness for long. In some moments, you come out of your reverie and find that the world is the same as you left it and the magnificence of your dreamy outpourings is full of holes and generalizations. Except in this case there is produced something concrete to review and something that maybe able to affect the future.

Brooks also stated that every writer has his word limit. Not the exact statement but I can’t remember the specifics. His point was that we have in us a natural comfort or effectiveness with specific lengths. The essence was that a writer may very well shine in a particular word count as well as genre. Eureka for me!!!!! I like my blogs. I like the short story. I’m not a verbose person much less writer. I am more comfortable working on small, separate blogs that may be related thematically and may be potentially turned into something larger or on short fictions that pinpoint a moment so profound to the characters that it is larger than those before or after.

Of course, Brooks was not saying that short works are ok to stick with if you just always run out of ideas or just don’t have much to say. A good writer has something to say and an impression to make, so let’s not cheat and say that Brooks said we don’t have to try or should be a person who simply stops writing at a number reached. Create something worth reading. It’s ALL hard if you do it right.

I prefer straight to the point, compartmentalized pieces of communication. With time and practice, I may become a more prolific writer of longer works. For now, these blasts of sharing buoy my spirit and energize me.

But what kind of writer are you? What is your comfortable word count? And is this per idea, subject, or writing session? Brooks admitted to having a time limit that he cannot pass without producing mediocre work. I think we owe it to ourselves to note our own boundaries and use them for a kind of framework in which to perfect our skills. Don’t fight it, count it.

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Heron Moon Press

I am an adjunct assistant professor of English at Pace University in NY, adjunct faculty in English at Raritan Valley Community College in NJ, an online member of the adjunct faculty at SNHU College of Online and Continuing Education, as well as a freelance editor and writer. For many years, I've taught, guided, and tutored many individuals from those as young as kindergarten age to Grad-school students. I've worked on fiction, nonfiction, and memoirs. What has given me the greatest pleasure, is when I have students get together in a group, and create a story together. I offer the theme (e.g., Create a version of Red Riding Hood) and they run with it. I hope to offer this community collaboration to many more people. The goal is to prove that you don't have to be alone to write, you don't have to offer yourself up alone to the group, you can collaborate and offer the world (yes, the world is the community) a chance to create a narrative together. The results have been amazing.

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