Sunday, March 5, 2017


Word counts.

Fiction writers worry about them, sometimes incessantly. I know I do. Last week, I obsessed over the few words I'd written since NaNoWriMo. None. Not one more word on any of my novel projects.

The question is why? When I got to thinking about it, I haven't had a lot of time to write because I've been... writing. But only non-fiction, and that doesn't count. Wait. What?

All our words count for something. I'll bet every one of you have written a lot more than you realize. Here's a list of writing projects I've touched in the past year, starting with the Blood-Red Pencil:

  • Blogging
  • Amazon reviews
  • Facebook posts
  • Emails
  • Twitter tweets
  • Book blurbs
  • Biographies
  • Query letters
  • Dedications
  • Obituaries
  • Author notes
  • Lesson plans
  • Reader guides
  • How-tos
  • Thank you notes 
Lately, that writing load has increased to include postcards like this:

  • Letters to the editor
  • Letters to Congress
  • Other rants

I haven't actually counted any of that writing, and it might be equally, if not more, important than my fiction writing. Most of my non-fiction is thoughtful and well-edited. It's also more often published. Is it time to realize and acknowledge its importance?

What about you? What non-fiction have you written lately? This month, we'll tackle non-fiction writing on the blog, and touch on some of the topics listed above.

It's important to remember that all words count.

Dani Greer is founding member of this blog. You may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at The Wild Idealist.


  1. I love this reminder that all words count. As editors, we try to help writers understand how to make the best use of that truth so their stories (fiction or non-fiction), letters, and other writings create the desired punch or effect on the intended reader(s). The above list of non-fiction categories indicates we fiction writers pen more non-fiction than we realize. Take rants, for instance. Carefully chosen words in a well-written rant can be a powerful push in a positive direction. Who was it who said the pen is mightier than the sword? Ah, yes. Thank you, Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

  2. And professionals don't slack on their "casual" writing, not if they're serious about making a good impression. At least I don't.

  3. I find I always write a small word count, but during editing I fluff it out.

  4. In fiction, I write all my dialogue first with little notes like "insert wardrobe deets" and "add growy stuff to garden". LOL.

  5. Most of my writing in the past few months has alternated between snarling vulgarities and in-depth medical stuff. Oh! And the piece that Lewis Black read ... I should do more of that.

  6. I've actually stopped tracking word count on my wip, despite the fact that tracking has helped so much in the past. The reason it worked previously was because I had a firm deadline; this time I found without a deadline word count is simply not as important anymore. Instead I count writing sessions; typically I only manage one session per day and I'm now trying to get myself in front of the screen for a second and third session.

  7. Love your postcard reads. Yes. My writing lately has been the same pages over and over, but I do write grocery lists.

  8. Perfectly timed reminder for me. I write constantly, including a poem a day, journalling, letters, and more, and yet I beat myself up for NOT writing. I do need to get myself organized to make sure that I write what is most important to me, though, as sometimes that gets pushed out of the way because all the other things talk more loudly.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook