Looking Beyond the Word Count

Judith Heaney
2 min readFeb 25, 2018


A couple of nights ago at about 9:30, a time I tend to sit down and write if I haven’t yet during the day, I was fast asleep. I considered staying up and writing because I’d done it for several days in a row and I liked the sense of accomplishment it gave me. And, I’m trying to re-establish a daily writing routine.

photo credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterians (Skitterphoto) on Pixabay

Even so, I opted to break my 11-day writing streak of at least 300 words a day in favor of going to bed.

It wasn’t an easy decision and I even called up my story document and stared at it for several minutes debating with myself about writing or not writing. The guilt of not writing was overwhelming in those few minutes. In my writer’s brain, the negative voices came together to tell me how selfish I was being and how I lacked the discipline necessary to be a “real” writer.

But, here’s the thing. The writer in me recognized choosing self-care is not selfish nor does it undermine my daily writing habit or daily word count. I firmly believe in showing up to write whether I am feeling inspired or not. I firmly believe bad writing is better than not writing.

However, I also firmly believe we, as writers, know ourselves well enough to know when it’s okay to say, I need a break.

Because here’s the thing. Sometimes there is as much a sense of accomplishment in treating myself well, and going to bed early and fighting the self-imposed guilt of not staying up to write. In fact, it’s a choice that nurtures my writing habit. And my writing.

And in my book, that counts for something, even if it’s not a word count.

(p.s. The next day I reached a little over 800 words, mainly for a Medium post on the 7 last words of Christ, but with some words exploring the dynamic between the characters in my story)

The bottom line is I #amwriting. I am making progress on my #story. And there is #noguilt in taking time to rest. It really does make me a better writer. And person.