Do, normally, only words which are eventually to be kept count, or do you also count rewrites? For example, if I rewrite a 50 word paragraph 10 times, is my daily count up to 50 or up to 500?

4 Answers 4


Why does it matter, if your word count is 50 or 500 after a rewrite? You should ask yourself, why do you want to count your words.

If you use the number to motivate yourself ("Look, I wrote 100 words. What a good day!"), then count the rewrites.

If you need the number to show someone your progress (like your publisher who pays you to finish the book), then he is probably not interested in the rewrite-count, but that's a thing you should clarify with your publisher.

If it is only for you. I would say, it does not really matter. Keep (re)writing. Every word, rewritten or not, takes you one step further to your main goal. I do not count my daily words. I only count all words of the finished novel, because I put that info into my cover letters/synopsis.

  • 2
    If the numbers are the way the question author gets motivated, then there's nothing wrong with that. Of course, when it comes to rewrites, quality is more important that quantity. Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 18:33
  • @neilfein: Have you got the impression, that I think something is wrong with it? Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 18:39
  • Yes, I got that from the first sentence in your answer. Although I see that it could be meant a couple of different ways, it came across to me as dismissive. (Good answer otherwise, sorry if I misread it.) Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 19:40

To answer to your question, I personally count only the initial revision.

The reason why: It's generally more productive to write without going back to edit, keeping all self-criticism held in until you're done with the session. Even better, wait a day or two before revising at all. You'll come at it fresh and be able to see problems you wouldn't have noticed right away.

  • Do you count the words you write as part of the count for the day when you're revising, even if it's 2-3 days later? Or, do you write the words for that day first, and then not count revision words? Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 0:02
  • @blueberryfields I don't worry too much about the minutiae of the word counting. Revising can take a lot longer than writing for a lot lower word count, so it's hardly the same scale.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 0:17

Normally I base my word count on what's in the file when I finish my session. I don't count any minor tweaks or changes. If I spent the day rewriting a single paragraph I would end up only counting the final result.

On the other hand if I'm doing a big rewrite, like a full scene or a whole chapter I will usually count those changes. There's no hard and fast rule for this, but usually if I'm cutting out enough to save it's enough to be worth counting.


It all depends on your goal.

  • If you're trying to hit a deadline by doing x words per day, then you have to compare the word count of your written work before the edit and after. Some people use pages for this rather than words.
  • If you want to see how much effort you're putting in or you have a goal for each individual writing session to say "this was a successful session" or "okay, this session is done", count the words you typed.

I don't think there's a hard-and-fast rule on this, it really is up to you and what you're trying to achieve by knowing the word count.

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