We’ve all been there—scrolling through our feeds and seeing the screenshots of how many words other writer friends wrote that day. And no matter how happy you are for them, you just feel… inadequate.

Why don’t I write that much every day?

It’s hard not to focus on word count in this business. That’s the first thing someone asks—how many words? Submission and genre guidelines all state a word count. Heck, NaNoWriMo revolves around word count goals!

But writing isn’t just about how many words you put on paper (or screen).

Are you researching for your book? Hey—you’re writing!
Writing character backstory or working on a character map?
Making a series “bible” to keep the rules of your fantasy world straight?
Taking a walk in the woods to figure out a sticking point?
Planning or revising beats?
Maybe you made revisions the old-fashioned way (like me), using pencil and paper, and now need to type them up?
Are you reading similar books in your genre?
Playing with character sketches?
Working on a synopsis, query letter, or other submission materials?
Reading a craft book to better your technique?
Dreaming about your fictional world?
Or maybe “noodling,” as my writing group says, about a particular scene while putting away the laundry?

Did you answer yes to any of this? Well then, congratulations—you’re writing!

It’s not about the number of words on the page—it’s about the work behind them to get your story where it needs to go.

Don’t feel bad about “noodle” time. In fact, don’t feel bad if life is crazy and you have to run the kids back and forth to their activities or can’t get any quiet time because everyone is home in quarantine. Because, hey—you’re experiencing real life, and that only ever enriches your writing and will strengthen your characters and world once you get back to that keyboard. If you’re like me, you might feel a bit grumpy when life keeps you away from pen-to-paper time (or butt-in-chair, as Jane Yolen says). But we need to remember to use the time to look around.

Pay attention to what’s happening around us. Be mindful of what we see, hear, smell, feel. We can use it all in our writing!

Not seeing that word count we want can be frustrating, but ignore it. Writing isn’t just about random words on paper. There is so much more that goes into creating a good story! Each and every one of those activities that helps you develop the full and rich world your novel needs counts as “writing.”

So noodle away—you’ve got this!


Photo Credit: Cytonn Photography on UnSplash