Is easy to get wrapped up in the word/page count of your manuscript, especially if its your very first novel. When I was in the creative process of my first book I was always doing tedious obsessive things like changing the font and letter size to make my page count jump. Depending on how far along into the book I was, it would make quite the difference. Each time I’d get all giddy about my ‘progress’.
I remember the first time I changed my spacing from 1.5 to double. My document skyrocketed from 80 pages to a whopping 125!! I gasped in shock and excitement. Then I immediately called my sister to tell her all about it! As soon as I was off the phone I ran to the liquor store to purchase my favorite bottle of wine to celebrate, I was ecstatic!! Only to come home and have my husband ‘kindly’ point out the harsh reality of my cheating ways.
IT DIDN’T MATTER HOW MANY PAGES MY MANUSCRIPT WAS! OBVIOUSLY THE SPACING WOULD HAVE TO BE CHANGED BACK FOR PRINT! LOL…
After this awkward page count catastrophe, I began focusing on the word count instead. Being new, I didn’t know how much was a lot and how much was a little. So I got to researching, and then set a goal. I figured that since it was my first project I’d strive to reach a 50k word count. This was a reachable goal (that I ended up barely grasping BTW) but I knew that I could totally pull it off.
I still cheated…
I used a lot of filler words, and I repeated myself, and I even restructured sentences so I could make them longer. It was completely unnecessary, but I was determined to reach my word count goal. I wasn’t at all above getting down and dirty in the process. Once the entire first draft was finished I passed it on to my mom, who is NOT an editor by any means, to help me ‘check’ it. This went okay, not great… Looking back now I’ll give her a B- (and that’s bumping the grade up for effort and completion in a timely manor.)
Now, don’t get me wrong, my first book is an excellent story! Had I been an expert at the time rather than an amateur, it would hands down be my best piece of work to date. But hey, everyone has to start somewhere right… I have one more year under contract (another big fat amateur mistake that we don’t need to get into). As soon as that said contract is up, I plan on dissecting The Stix and turning it into something truly epic.
Back to my point!
I published this book as soon as that one whole round of non-professional edits where incorporated. Then I celebrated and celebrated and held my breath. I figured everyone on the planet would just automatically buy it, because of course it would be the biggest hottest item, and I’d instantly be a rich woman!!
DUN DUN DUN…. Then life happened and my hopes and dreams were smashed by the reality of ignorance… Aaaannnnnddddd my cheating ways.
So what did I do? … Wrote another book of course!!!
This time around I paid an editor (It was a crappy one that over-charged and under-worked) but still an actual ‘professional’ nonetheless… He said I was wordy… WORDY!! WTF DID HE MEAN BY THAT?! How dare he?
I’m happy to say that I’ve long since learned from my mistakes. I wouldn’t change them for the world because after all, every single thing we do along the way molds us into who we are, and what we’re meant to accomplish. If I hadn’t been a cheating obsessive amateur focused on all the wrong things, then I wouldn’t understand now what’s most important.
Moral of the story: Focus on your creativity and on perfecting the content. It IS important to set word count goals, of course, but the WAY you get there is imperative… Don’t obsess, and don’t cheat. I promise things won’t end well that way. Be you, and write in a way that reflects the best version of your capabilities.
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