Writers—especially those working on their first books—tend to obsess over word count. Maybe that's because a manuscript's word count is one of its only truly objective elements. Character, plot, style, and voice are all difficult to define, and books change with each reader's response. But a manuscript that is 82,749 words is exactly that. So it makes sense that writers want to control this aspect that we can control, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Word count is important, especially for writers planning to pursue traditional publication, and understanding word count goals can make the drafting and editing processes more efficient. But sometimes focusing on word count can be a detriment. Let's discuss why word count is important, how to use your current and projected word count to your advantage, and when word count should be the last thing on your mind.