Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

The Advantages of Writing Fewer Words


A pile of sticky notes in interesting colours.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Today I’m guest posting over at Victoria Grefer’s blog, Creative Writing with the Crimson League. The post is about Sustaining Your Creativity During Fiction Withdrawals. Pop over and take a look.

Writing thousands of words a day is a great feeling. I love NaNoWriMo and I admire writers who can pump out multiple novels a year.

However, there are times when we cannot write thousands of words a day. Perhaps because we’re working on other projects or life has got in the way for some reason. If you’re facing one of these problems, don’t make the mistake of believing you can’t get your writing done. You do both yourself and your Creativity a disservice.

In my guest post today, I mentioned spending 500 words or 1/2 hour on your manuscript each day. This may sound insignificant compared to the thousands of words you may have written in the past, but writing fewer words can have some interesting benefits.

Here are four advantages to this writing habit.

It Keeps Your Creativity in Shape

This is the most obvious benefit. When you write regularly, your words flow much more easily and your Creativity remains active.

By turning up to the page at the same time with the same expectations every day, you’re training your Creativity to expect routine. Once you’re in that routine, your Creativity will turn up consistently and promptly ready to participate. (Trust me. This does work! For more information, see Creativity on Demand.)

It Changes the Dynamic of the Process

Most of us are used to pouring words onto the page and coming back later to make sense of them. First drafts are fantastically freeing in that way. When we are aiming for over a thousand words, we fill our pages up with all sorts of interesting sentences.

While there is definitely a place for large word counts, by limiting the number of words you have to produce your attention turns from the volume of words to the craft of writing. It’s an intriguing shift which you can use to your advantage.

It Forces You to Make Words Count

You have 500 words to play with today. What interesting things will you pack into those words? What will you describe? What will your characters say? Approach your page with excitement to see where those 500 words will take you.

Instead of trying to form a whole scene in one sitting, look for layers of meaning and hidden details that will make these 500 words matter to the story. Read back over what you’ve written before to get the flow and then craft the next little section of your story.

It Encourages You to do it Daily

Writing thousands of words takes time, and therefore when we’re having a busy day our writing time can often be the first thing to go. But if your goal is much smaller, you’re more likely to fit it into your day.

Knowing you’ll only be spending 1/2 an hour (or less) on your writing means you’re more likely to find time to do it every day, because you know you’ll have time to do other things afterwards.

Having said all this, it’s worth remembering that everyone’s process and Creativity are different. For some people, writing has to be an all or nothing affair. It should also be said that different writing projects require different methods. Some of your stories need to be written in large chunks. Writing them little bit by little bit won’t work.

But if you’re in the middle of Fiction Withdrawals, and you’re not able to write as many words as you would like, don’t give up on your writing. Continue trying different things to keep both you and your Creativity active.

What’s your writing routine like? How many words do you average a day?


Author: Jessica

I'm a writer who refuses to pin myself down to one genre, hopping from science-fiction and fantasy through to literary and even the odd western now and then. Check out what I've written at or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock.

4 thoughts on “The Advantages of Writing Fewer Words

  1. I totally love this piece. As a role player / writer, some days I just don’t feel it. The rest of the group might want to go off on a story arc, or play a certain piece, but my heart just isn’t there, and sometimes I feel like I am bashing the keys with a mallet. ❤

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Leave a reply below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s