As I progress further into the realm of everything 8+ and the fluffiness of picture books are now in my rear view mirror for the time being, I become a little obsessive about my current word count.

I try not to touch the keys that bring up the little box of joy. The box of wonder that will either make or break the rest of my writing day. I’ve been writing for what seems like hours so why not take a wee peak? A sneak preview of the main event. What harm can it do?

My heart starts to beat a little bit faster, the excitement grows as I tenderly move my hands and press down on the black keys – the short cut to insanity I suppose you could call it. My mind begins to ponder, questions appearing, ear worms beginning to chatter Word Up by Bobby Brown (sorry – it was the best I could think of). Will my goal be reached? If so, can I then match that word count every week/day/hour? What if I don’t? Oh no! Wait a minute! Did I even set a goal?

Beads of sweat appear on my forehead. If I were to look in the mirror at this precise moment in time I have no doubt in mind that I would look like someone had sprayed lemon juice in one eye and my face would be all scrunched up as I try to glimpse the latest figures through one half-closed eye. My neck would be as far back as I could place it, very demure and giraffe like obviously and my glasses would probably be all steamed up from the exertion of it all. I think I will call it The Not-looking face.

The devil and an angel appear on my shoulders tormenting my decision to ‘look’. “Don’t do it!”, the squeaky clean angel purrs into my left ear. “What are you waiting for”, bellows the devil into my right ear. “You know you want to”, he leaves me with before they both disappear again and leave me to my quandary.

You know you want to – a saying we use all the time but do we really want to? What good can come from knowing? How are you supposed to finish if you keep stopping to check how many letters have filled the page? (I picture my Mum here with her hands on her hips saying “Well?” in her stern, I’m not impressed with your lack of enthusiasm young lady kind of look.)

For someone who normally completes a picture book story on one, maybe two pages of A4,it’s taken me a while to get used to the fact that I will not be finished any time soon. Each chapter of prose I create for my WIP is currently running onto the page so quickly that my brain can’t keep up! It’s like a tap has been turned on in my head and the story MUST GET OUT or the world will end, my nose will fall off or some other earth-shattering event may or may not happen.

Focus Great Big Jar, Focus! So I treat myself to checking my word count every now and again. Sometimes it’s every 10 minutes or so and then it’s every hour  and then it’s every meal time…

I try not to look but it’s so tempting to find out. So far, my peeking has made my heart skip a beat as I am getting on much better than I thought I would. There will come a day when I look and I will probably have gone backwards but that’s the beauty of it all. Write, write and write some more. Only then should you touch the holy grail of The Mystical World of Word Count.  And breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.

(p.s I’m on 26,895 if you’re wondering)


  1. This early in the New Year you’re supposed to fight off temptation. It’s part of the rules. When you said your hands were moving and pressing down the black keys I thought you’d moved to the piano but I realised you wouldn’t ignore the white.
    It sounds like the WIP is going really well Sarah. I’m so pleased. Now I’ve actually started again too, not back on chapter 4 of the book I stopped 2 years ago but a little book of children’s poetry with illustrations for my grandson.
    Sending Massive Hugs and New Year Wishes. xxxxxxxx

    1. Author

      R is very lucky to have you for a Grandad! The black keys are on my laptop – the white letters are what drive me forward. I like the comparison to the piano though..tinkering the ivory letters so to speak.

  2. Author

    Thanks Siobhan! It’s very easy to get distracted so I try and stay in my writing cave as long as I can 🙂

  3. It’s a great feeling when you forget to check, then, when you do, you’ve added a thousand words without too much pain. Writing is hard work, though, so well done!