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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Does Brainstorming Count? (pun intended)

   
Author Topic: Does Brainstorming Count? (pun intended)
Justin
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If you are brainstorming about a story or characters in a story, do you include any words written during the brainstorming process in your tally of total words for the day/week? I don't think it's right or wrong either way, but I am curious to see what you all think. I suppose it would be some comfort to know that at least some of you "count" these words even though they will never end up appearing in a story.
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MAP
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I don't keep a tally of how many words I write. I have goals of number of scenes I want to complete.

But I don't see why you can't count them if you want to. Do you only count words that actually end up in your novel? Cause editing would kind of mess that up a bit when you are deleting and adding words as needed.

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Meredith
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I don't keep track of word count, either. Did that for a month or two and found it more distracting than helpful.

I set my goals in chapters, etc.

However, anything you do in furtherance of your writing counts in my book.

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extrinsic
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Prewiting, in my book, is writing, even mental composition. In all aspects, since all obligations and responsibilities accrue to a writer for a product outcome, all rights and privileges do too, including imposing standards and expectations, quotas and deadlines, and by what metric success is measured.

There is a most liberating experience when a writer realizes all external complications are what they are, nothing can be done to change them, and the only one to make a difference is the writer, noteably in realizing all an audience really wants is accessible, comprehensible, stimulating entertainments.

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MattLeo
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Well, we all know that word count is a very crude measure of productivity. What if you take a ten thousand word scene and improve it by cutting it down to five. How should you count that?

Well, it depends why you are counting. If you are trying to measure where you are in relation to your target final word count, it counts as *negative* five thousand. If you are trying to measure how consistently you are working each week, I'd count it as positive five thousand, because it's five thousand words of progress.

Likewise for brainstorming, counting words in your notes has no relevance toward measuring how close you are to your final target. But if you are trying to ensure that you don't let your project fall into neglect, it wouldn't be unreasonable to count words in your brainstorming notes. Still, I'd be careful about counting brainstorming as work, because it can be used as an excuse for not tacking demanding or tiresome tasks, like drafting scenes you need but don't feel excited about.

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Justin
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I think my concern has to do with keeping up the sense of connection to a story's characters and world. I'm worried that digressions into exploring particular character backstories or refining the overall story outline will derail the project I'm working on.

In MattLeo's first example, if you cut 5,000 words from a story, does it harm your ability to re-enter those characters and that world in the future?

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Justin:
I think my concern has to do with keeping up the sense of connection to a story's characters and world. I'm worried that digressions into exploring particular character backstories or refining the overall story outline will derail the project I'm working on.

In MattLeo's first example, if you cut 5,000 words from a story, does it harm your ability to re-enter those characters and that world in the future?

You ought not to be editing or cutting anything until you have finished a first draft all the way to "The End". Editing and cutting are a separate process that needs to come later, not during, the first draft process.
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axeminister
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I don't count mental words because I can't. Physically.
However, I always write (compose) WAY better in my head than I do when I finally reach the computer.

The inside of my head is wrapped in aluminum foil. I can't steal my own ideas. [Frown]

Axe

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Robert Nowall
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If I'm working on an outline, I generally count that as part of the five-hundred-words-a-day I shoot for when I'm writing at all. (Usually it sits stuck on the front of the draft until the next time around.) What goes on inside my head, which can happen anytime, anywhere, I don't count---usually it's not in words, anyway.
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LDWriter2
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I usually don't count my words either unless it's a special challenge or The National Write a Novel Month but I wouldn't count mental writing. I do that a lot, sometimes editing a story I have written, sometimes, inventing a story, sometimes fixing a place where I am stuck. Sometimes because I'm bored--those stories usually never get put down on paper or typed down to a screen.
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Tiergan
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I'm a word counter. Re-arranged my schedule for the morning when its quiet and my brain functions. Although it menat having to give put aside working out. Is easier to wake up to write, then the dreaded P90X routine. But my primary goal is 500 words a day, gives me a leiaruely start, with most days coming in around 1,500 for the hour. Weekends tend to be stronger, nearly double that. So far, in the last 2 months of it, have averaged 10k a week, so quite happy there. Of course had 3 weeks of travelling which amounted to next to nothing.

As far as brainstorming. I dont count those words, but I count the time. For me its about dedicating that mininum 1 hour a day, which with luck goes to 2 hours. I spent countless hours brainstorming and not enough time writing, so I am real careful now regarding that.

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ForlornShadow
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I don't count words either, or for that matter I don't measure anything when I'm writing: chapters, scenes, etc. I just write. If I'm worried about finishing a scene or a chapter or getting to whatever number of words a day it distracts me from what I'm really doing. Sometimes I'll write two sentences and feel accomplished for the day, other times I need to write pages and pages to feel good about it.
Even during NaNoWriMo or even the upcoming Camp Nano, I won't be counting my words until I have finished for the night. It's all about what you want when you're writing. Some people might say I have to measure how successful I am in a day but to be honest I don't care. I write because I love to and just being able to write is a good thing.

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wise
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quote:
Originally posted by Meredith:
You ought not to be editing or cutting nything until you have finished a first draft all the way to "The End". Editing and cutting are a separate process that needs to come later, not during, the first draft process. [/QB]

My problem is that a third of the way through my novel I realized the timeline wasn't working, so I had to go back and shift things farther back into the past to relate to real-life events that affect my characters. Nothing too major, but a necessary edit. Then I realized that the motivations for my bad guys was weak, so I went back and reworked that. I realize that a solid outline might've caught these errors ahead of time, but I find that as I'm writing my characters or plot give me new insights. If I don't fix them right away, then the rest of the story will be based on faulty premises.

As an inexperienced writer, I'm still "feeling" my way through the process. I thought I had it outlined and pretty well thought out before I began, but as I wrote I found out my bad guys' motivation sounded weak and messy, so I needed to overhaul.
Perhaps that will improve as I gain more mileage, but for now, I have to admit that tweaking as I go is working for me. Of course, the final product will be the proof, so time will tell!

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dade30
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I donít include those words contained in my brainstorming process. I always do the tallying at the end of the day because I believe that those ideas would still be part of the story. I concentrate more on the creation of my story. Sometimes I canít even have my tallying done.
Either way is alright, it depends upon you. If youíre comfortable with it you shall continue with that.

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rabirch
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If the words are on the page, then I count them. It's actually been really helpful. I tended to do a lot of my thinking only in my head, and that felt very ephemeral. When I make myself type out my thinking process it helps to solidify things, and it feels much more productive. Also, a lot easier to come back to and reference. My memory is terrible, so I will often forget even things that I've written down, so maybe this is good training for when I'm even older and things get worse.

[ June 14, 2012, 06:46 PM: Message edited by: rabirch ]

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