Beyond Word Counts: Embracing the nature of creativity

Antique cup with tea bag.

Photo from Jabiru, at Dreamstime.com.

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my creative path. There’s a lot of chatter in the writing blogosphere about word counts—how much we have written, or how much we should have written. I’ve heard some writers say they write 500 words a day. I’ve heard others say that if you can’t write at least 2,000 words a day, you can’t make it as a professional writer.

I’m a full-time writer. This is my job. But creativity is also a spiritual thing. Some people might say it’s not—and maybe for others, it isn’t. But for me, my stories, poems, etc. are gifts from the goddess. She sends them to me, and it’s my job to write them down and share them with others.

And sometimes, when I’m tracking word count, I forget that. Take, for example, the story I wrote this summer, Goblins and Grimoires. I wrote an average of 2,500 words a day on that story. And there were days when I was pushing myself to meet that goal. I would get stuck on the story and sit there until something popped into my head, and then force myself to keep writing until I met my goal.

And the first draft of that story is a mess. And now I see why: Because for me writing needs to steep like a cup of tea. You can’t just plop a tea bag in and start sipping. You have to wait for the flavors to release—and the stronger the brew you want, the longer you have to wait. Sure, some stories arrive nearly fully formed. Others emerge slowly.

For me, thinking is part of writing. And that’s why my crazy word count goals failed. I need time to think over a plot point. Time to mull over character arc and development. Time to figure out how to weave together romance and fantasy.

For now, I’m going slowly. I have plans to revise two short stories and a poem, indie publish one short story, and submit the other short story and poem to magazines. I played around with the poem a little this week and jotted down a few notes on one short story, Spirits of Embers. I’d also like to finish a final draft of Spellfire’s Kiss and submit it to publishers by early next year.

I’m also playing around with new stories as well, to keep the creative juices flowing. I’ve written 1,672 words in Entwined Magic, a new-adult fantasy romance novel, and 574 words in The Magic of Harthwaite Manor, a steampunk romance. I’m not setting deadlines or establishing expectations for those stories. For now, I’m playing.

And that’s the plan. Getting back in touch with my creativity—and the spiritual side of that creativity. Still moving forward, but allowing things to unfold at their own pace.

One of my other goals is to work on my social media platform. I’ve been doing a bit of that. I’ve been present on Facebook more and become approved as a Goodreads Author (yay!). My next steps are to set up my Amazon author page, reengage on Twitter, and create a Pinterest board for my published books. I’m behind on responding to blog comments and visiting blogs, so hopefully I can catch up on that soon.

All in all it’s been a productive week so far.

What about you? Do you think there’s a spiritual element to creativity? Do you need time to mull over your stories as you write, or do you just write without stopping? (And, of course, because creativity is a strange and intangible thing, there are no right answers.)

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5 thoughts on “Beyond Word Counts: Embracing the nature of creativity

  1. I’m not the type of writer who can write a short story in one sitting. I need time to mull over plot and character development. The problem I have is that I tend to edit while writing the first draft. I don’t creativity to burst through. I’m working on just letting the creative side play with words. That’s not to say that I can write a short story in one sitting. I feel that I can get more of the story down if I just let the writer be. I think one way to nurture that side is to physically write the story down on paper. That way I can’t edit while I write. And if I mess up, then it’s okay. I can make changes when I go to type it out.

    Sounds like you spent your time well with your writing. I would like to read some of your work. Granted, I’m not an expert with fantasy or romance, but I’m willing to give it a try.

    • Sometimes I can write a short story in one sitting. But here’s the thing. If I sit down and say, going in, that I’ll write the story in one sitting, it tends to have elements or plot points that feel forced. Every once in a while, a story just appears, and I just type away madly until the entire story is on the page. But that’s rare. Usually I have to write, mull over, write some more, etc. It’s gradual. And I think trying to force myself into higher word counts was damaging to my process.

      I like your idea of writing on paper. I love the tactile experience of handwriting. When I’m working on fiction, I usually type because it’s faster and easier to edit later, although I’ll often write snippets on paper as they come to me. But when I write poetry, handwriting works so much better. I think it’s for the reason you mentioned: it’s harder to edit while you write, so you just go with the flow of the words.

      Thanks, George! I’ll send you a copy of one of my stories as soon as I can. This weekend will be crazy, but I should be able to get something to you next week. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

  2. I’m so sorry Denise. I’ve been so busy lately, I just found you in my email. The fact that you can write more than one singe style of writing at one time always amazes me. And you for the most part are so productive. As I’ve said before, you inspire me!!! 🙂

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