I used to measure my writing productivity by word count. It seemed the most straightforward way of setting and achieving writing goals (e.g. write 300 words a day, which I almost always surpassed). I even designed an Excel spreadsheet with a multitude of formulas for totalling per month, averaging word count per day/month/quarter, etc.
It worked well for months, until I began revising stories instead of writing new ones. One day, I spent hours reworking a story, taking out entire sections, and writing new ones from scratch. I was in “the zone”, and completely rewrote a story in one intense ten-hour stretch that flew by and felt like no longer than a mere hour. I was also incredibly proud of the end product, where a story had all come together to my complete satisfaction.
Then I looked at the final word count. The net result was exactly minus forty words from where I had started that morning. Minus forty words in ten hours where I felt I had accomplished so much. I dejectedly entered zero in my spreadsheet, and felt like a failure as the pre-programmed formulas spewed the twisted results.
I created another column to note that it was revision/rewrite, and wrote several lines as if to justify that I did indeed write that day. I kept up the database but as I continued spending time on revisions, my averaged stats continued to take a dive, as if all my work counted for nothing.
It reached a point where I made excuses not to write so I didn’t have to open the database. So I put a stop to it and I archived the database, and stopped counting.
I sometimes miss the spreadsheet, especially on days when I write explosively, thousands upon thousands of words. Even if I want to somehow track that successful production, I don’t as the alternative is just not worth it.
Whether it’s new words, revisions, rewrites, or even research, it’s all part of the writing process, MY writing process.
I alone know the work I put in and can only report to myself. I won’t—and can’t—let hard statistics affect what I know I have accomplished, and impact me to a degree that makes me stop doing what I love to do.
So without reporting, recording, or word count tracking, I just keep writing.