Posted in Reasons and Things, Writing

Five Reasons Why I Absolutely Loathe Word Limits (with all of the fiery passions of Mordor)

Good afternoon, Cyberspace!

It is an uncommonly known truth that I–the Cookie Queen–absolutely and irrevocably despise with a burning passion the most vile form of restraint that is commonly cast upon the writers of this day:

The Word Limit.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I believe that in some extremely rare and therefore no cases, word limits can be a good thing.

Sort of.

Say, for example, in a story competition. There needs to be a ceiling on how many words you can barf out into your entry, because the people running said competition aren’t going to want to wade through 32,845 words per entry. Especially not if they were going to feature the competition winner in their rich and sassy magazine.

It just doesn’t work like that, peeps. And for this reason, I applaud the word limit. For this reason it serves a purpose. For this reason I can tolerate–however feebly–its disgusting existence.

But there are also many reasons I why absolutely despise the word limit, and while it does seem like a noble steed in these very obscure conditions, these small occurrences are just not enough to outweigh the horrendous things it has done.

And so, without further ado, allow me to present–



— Five Reasons Why I Absolutely Loath Word Limits (with all of the fiery passions of Mordor) —

— Reason One – It’s Annoying —

Yes, yes, this is a reason.

When I finally sit my pudgy self down to write a story, the VERY LAST thing I want to be worrying about is whether I have a word limit.

Seriously, now. Do you realize how annoying it is to find yourself happily typing away when–out of the very corner of your bulging right eye–you see it.

The wordcount.

And it is rising.

And now you can’t help but keep glancing at it as you type, watching as it rises and rises and rises ever nearer towards that delightful word limit, and suddenly you’re panicking and stuffing your face with marshmallows because you haven’t even cleared your opening introduction yet.

I mean, do people even realize how crippling this is to a writer’s creativity? Do they?

DO THEY?

No. Of course they don’t.

Which brings us to…

— Reason Two – It Is Crippling To A Writer’s Creativity —

Let’s think about this scientifically, shall we?

Scientifically speaking, a writer’s work is pure creativity. Sure, there’s the occasional research into the natural elements of life–such as how to diffuse a bomb and how long it takes to die from a pitchfork wound–but the nit and grit of it is that a writer is no different than any other creative profession. Like an artist. Or a sculptor.

Or a designer, or knitter, or painter, or sketcher, or a refurbisher-er (?), or t-shirt designer, or blogger, or whatever.

It doesn’t matter. If you create something out of nearly nothing, then you are a creator.

Thus the name creativity.

And writers are no different.

So, for example, let’s say we take that glorious sculpture someone has created out of basically mushy dirt paste, and we rip off its left arm because–hey! You went over your clay limit.

Too bad for you, sir. You’ll just have to live without your measly appendage for the rest of your existence, okay? Okay.

And also your foot because you’re still over by 43 words ounces of clay.

#OOPS

And of course this sounds ludicrous when we think about it like a sculptor having his sculpture mutilated right before his very eyes. Obviously they should have taken a pickaxe to its face first.

Yet this is exactly what we’re doing to writers when we give them a word limit.

(of course we lose our clay appendages what are you talking about)

In fact, we even go a step further.

We make the writers do the deed themselves.

Because that makes so much more sense.

Oh. Your story is 643 words? Don’t worry. Here’s a dull blade.

Go lop its arm off.

When we give writers a strict word limit, we are making it physically impossible for them to tell the entire story that they are trying to tell. Sure, you’re going to get the important parts–like the head and the lungs and hopefully a kidney or two (if you’re lucky)–but as for that left arm and kankle foot?

Well…

Farewell, Sir Kankle

It’s not like vomiting an actual story that you’ve spontaneously combusted in your brain meats onto a page is hard enough, right?

HA. Of course not.

— Reason Three – It Kills My Writerly Soul —

Eleven times out of ten, when I have a word limit that I must abide by, it makes me 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 X’s more likely to rip my hair out and wet my keyboard with the drippings of my salty and shameful tears because I am constantly under a mountain of stress and pressure to include every single thing I love about my story whilst somehow, by the powers of the seven suns, keeping it under the 600 word limit.

Or however many words the deluded psychopath (vile enemy???) word limit issuer has decided to grant upon my poor unfortunate soul.

Seriously, having a word-noose around my neck makes me want to do everything and/or anything besides actually writing, simply because I have no idea how in the world I’m going to fit a complex plot, three-headed troll, intricate side-quests, damsel prince in distress, and a beef burrito topped with cheese into 600 words.

Or less, of course. Because we’re nice.

— Reason Four – It Kills Actual People Characters —

Do you know the precise amount of characters who have to be completely DELETED–ergo MURDERED–from a story just because the writer does not have enough words to compensate for them?

DO YOU, HUH? DO YOU???

The answer is A LOT.

Like maybe three.

But those three lives matter, okay? Just because YOU don’t think a mountain troll’s personal woes are relevant to the plot of a poor baker man living in an 18th century country village being invaded by aliens does NOT mean that they don’t matter to ME.

How dare you be so selfish, sir.

#fictionallivesmatter

#savethetrolls

— Reason Five – It Makes Writing Seem Like a Hassle, Rather Than a Privilege —

You know that glorious feeling of having an empty page before you, just waiting for you to fill it with sparkling words that flow and dance across the page like a rippling river? You know that itch in your fingertips when you sit down to write a fresh story, the hushed voice that whispers to you that anything–fairies, dragons, that crazy-haired scientist living in his great uncle’s basement–is possible?

Yeah. That feeling is completely squashed like a potato beneath the weight of the word limit.

Not only does a word limit cripple a writer’s creativity, but it also cripples their will to live write. A writer writes because they no longer want their thoughts to be caged. They write to set their characters and their world free, to unleash this story that is pent up within them out into the world, where it can grow and expand into more than just a thought swirling inside their head. A writer writes to give their story wings, to give it a new life, to give it a heart and a mind and a soul.

Forcing us to keep our words within a box makes this utterly impossible.

Where is the freedom when we know that we can only have a certain amount of words? Where is the freedom when our worlds are still trapped inside a cage? Where is the freedom when we are no longer in control of everything, including our word count?

Word limits grant no freedom, which makes the act of writing completely useless.

Because above all else, writers write to be free.



Well, that’s it for today, folks! What’d y’all think? Do you like word limits, or do they make you want to scream and tear your left arm off? Have you ever entered any story competitions (or written for a magazine or blog or newspaper, etc.) that forced you to have a specific word limit? What are your thoughts on this most disgusting creation? (Unless you’re for it. Then perhaps it is a marvelous ingenuity?) Let us talk about all of the word limit things down in the comments below!

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

 

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Author:

Christian, writer, blogger, dreamer, and full-time dragon enthusiast. I also like to fling cookies everywhere. Preferably at your face.

35 thoughts on “Five Reasons Why I Absolutely Loathe Word Limits (with all of the fiery passions of Mordor)

  1. I’ve never really written for anything that had a strict word limit, (well, at least I’ve never finished one😬) and I’ve never tried to impose one on myself, so I’ve been lucky!!! I feel like if I had a strict word limit for a story I would get super stressed towards the end and probably take a “short” break and promptly try to forget the story ever existed. Or, as it happens, I might have gotten bored of the story and decided to drop the contest anyway but that’s another subject.

    I don’t do well with limits on writing of any kind – I’ve had school assignments where I’ve run out of room on the allotted piece of paper when I’m trying to write something – so yup. Not for the word limits. If that happens when I’m writing for school, I’m not sure what would happen with writing a creative piece😂

    #savethetrolls

    – Abi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, exactly! I get super stressed out about word limits, so I don’t bother placing them on myself, haha! It’s not worth the pain!! 😂😂 Oh my word! I can relate so much to this!!! I’ve had at least two experiences with a strict word limit that I based this on, one of them being a short story contest that I entered on Wattpad, which I actually dropped out of because my story grew to be WAAAAYYYY over the limit!! 😂😂 So yeah! I totally bailed on the contest, haha! I did finish the story, though, so that was a plus!! 😛

      I can’t say as if I’ve ever had a word LIMIT on a school project, but rather a word goal that I had to meet, but word limits on school projects sound terrifying!!!! I’m not sure if creative writing limits would be worse, or if they’re just equally frightening, haha!

      #SAVETHETROLLS

      Like

      1. That’s good you finished the short story, at least!

        It wasn’t so much of a word limit on the school project, just the fact that I run out of room on my allotted page, or section that’s specifically there so I can write my answer/essay/who knows. So. That’s always fun.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ohhhhhhh!! Okay, now I HAVE done that, haha! Isn’t that the worst?? I think I have a tendency to write WAY more than is needed for a school answer, anyway, so that happened quite frequently for me. XD I got pretty good at scrunching letters, haha! XD

          Like

          1. Same! At least, I can make it super small if I want to. When I was handwriting my first ever novel, I had filled up at LEAST three of those GIANT five-section notebooks with the trendiest tiniest handwriting I think ever existed in this galaxy. XD Suffice to say, I still have the lump on my ring finger, and my handwriting has grown quite a bit to provide less strain to my poor eyeballs. (And also to my mom’s, because she read the ENTIRE THING, crampy writing/HORRIBLE PLOT and all…[I’m not sure how she did this, actually???])

            Like

          2. Oh man😂😂 I can relate – I’ve had to improve my handwriting too… because sometimes I couldn’t even read it myself. (Sometimes I still can’t *coughs*) And yup, mom’s are basically superheroes in disguise😂😂

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Oh, I can’t read my own handwriting sometimes, either, hahaha! And reading OTHER people’s handwriting is even worse! XD

            Oh definitely!!! Mom’s are DEFINITELY superheroes!!! They deserve ALL OF THE CAPES! (Except NO CAPES, because Edna Mode doesn’t like capes… So maybe just cool supersuits?)

            Like

  2. No hate, and I definitely agree with your points, but I would like to offer another take on this. I actually enjoy word limits more often than not, and that is for this reason:

    It’s challenging! I love knowing that I have to fit a story into a certain word count, because it forces me to think outside the box, if you will. That doesn’t make much sense, but for someone who writes like I do (quick, to the point and struggling to stretch a story to a word count), a limit can be awesome.

    For instance, I wrote for a fanfiction group recently, where I had to make a fictional character have a 24-hour flu bug in under 750 words. That was incredibly fun for me, just knowing that I had to choose what I wanted to keep in the story.

    Of course, it can be stifling to creativity for sure. I’m just saying that writing within a limit can provide structure and an interesting challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OOOOOOOH! Okay, I am in love with this different take on it. I suppose word limits CAN be used for good, rather than to induce pain and heartache…

      I never really thought of them as being a FUN challenge, but I guess that’s just because of my drafting style, which is explode ALL OF THE WORDS onto the page and write rather slow, but pretty long drafts… (I think we’re anti-twins in this regard!!! XD ) I like thinking about word limits like that now, though… It’s a little nicer than visualizing them as methods of restraint and torture!! XD

      Thank you so much for offering your take on word limits! Seriously, I love hearing different people’s opinions on topics such as these! (And also your fanfiction story sounds utterly amazing, by the way!!)

      Like

      1. Thank you so much! I’ve talked to a few different authors now about word limits, and they all seem to share your take on them, so I guess mine is an unpopular opinion. I also write rather plainly, and I’m horrible at dialogue. Word limit challenges help me with these by giving me a set amount of time to have someone say what they want to say.

        I love the phrase anti-twins. It’s amazing, and so fun to say. Anti-twins. You come up with the best stuff. Another Kenzieism to add to the bag 🙂

        Thank you so much for respecting my opinion, and giving me a listening ear instead of shutting me down! That is very much appreciated! And thanks about the story 🙂 🙂 It’s on the Internet, I’ll send you a link if you want to read it haha 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Unpopular opinions are the ones that need more voice, though! Oh, I LOVE writing dialogue. I think that’s where I get off track in my stories, really! XD My characters start talking, and an hour later they’re still squabbling about who ate the last onion ring. That is so cool that word limits are a fun challenge for you, though! Seriously, I would love to have them be something fun, rather than something terrifying. Maybe I’ll just have to try and change my perspective on them if I ever run into another one?? XD

          Aww, thank you! Actually, Kate (storyanddarkchocolate if you’ve seen her on the blogosphere!!) and I are going to be making some dual tags that Kate masterfully created the other day, and then it just kept growing bigger and more exciting the more we talked about them, to the point where anti-twins sprung into existence as something to be featured in one of them, haha! So it’s sort of a Kate-and-Kenzie-ism!!

          Oh my word, of COURSE! I would never shut someone down just for giving their opinion, especially when all I do on this blog is rant my own to the world! XD And OH MY WORD, I would LOVE it if you sent a link!!!

          Like

        2. I’m actually with you on this one. While I tend to wax eloquent when it comes to my writing, it often leads to purple prose and wasted space. A word limit provides a challenge; far from stifling my creativity, it strengthens it. Every word I write has to pull its weight and add value to the story, and in the process I become a better writer because I am learning how to say what I mean in the clearest way possible.

          Of course, more often than not I’m happy to word-vomit all over the place and see what happens, so I don’t typically impose word limits on myself.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I feel the exact same way about my writing, Phoebe. When I’m not careful, I wax eloquent to the point of meaningless paragraphs. In my head it sounds like a Victorian novel – on the page, a bundle of gibberish. Word limits help with keeping the flowers under control.

            And Kenzie, now I have to go find Kate and check out her blog 🙂 And here’s the link for you! https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12607809/1/Highly-Out-of-the-Ordinary It’s written about The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, an amazing steampunk novel. It has a corresponding series, but I love this prequel the best. I provide enough backstory so you don’t have to read the book first, but I recommend you do 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          2. But flowers are so PRETTY!!! XD (I really have no defence for my hatred of word limits, as you can obviously tell XD )

            Yes!!!! DEFINITELY do that! Her blog is AMAZING!!! And OOOOH! I shall definitely read it! I might not read the book FIRST, as I’m sort of dying to read your work, but I’ll definitely read it at some point! *stuffs it on top of my TBR pile* *glances nervously at giant TBR* Thank you so much for the link!!!

            Like

          3. I’m just gonna barge right in here and say, OKAY, NOW THAT IS ALSO TOTALLY TRUE!!

            Learning to have every single word MEAN something is definitely a good thing, and also helps make the story ten times better in the long run! I definitely agree with that, and it’s probably something I need to work on in my own writerly journey!! Heh heh…heh. *awkwardly shoves purple prose beneath the carpet* XD

            Tiny sidenote, I may or may not be inwardly squealing at how beautifully written “Every word I write has to pull its weight and add value to the story” is. Just…the word usage here.

            THE WORD USAGE.

            Like

  3. In high school, I wrote a terrific short (origin) story for one of my characters in my WIP. It was heavily inspired by The Dark Tower serious and freaking beautiful and I am still proud of it. Unfortunately, I was 34 pages over the 2 page limit.

    WHY.

    I spent the next several weeks taking a scythe to my work like the Grim Reaper and it was HEARTBREAKING. So thank you for this post. I AM NOT ALONE!!!!

    (Still have the 36 page version. You can take my land, you can take my horse, but you cannot take my soul!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my word!!! That story sounds amazing! I don’t believe I’ve ever read (or seen??) The Dark Tower, but I love darkness, and I love towers, so I think I would love it, and also your origin story, as well!

      But oh my word, that sounds terrible!!! I can’t imagine having to physically rip apart something that beautiful for a word limit. The one time I can think of that I was WAY over on the limit, I just quit the competition I was entering and wrote the story my way. I AM SO SORRY, DEAR BEAN!!! (Also, that Grim Reaper analogy was ON POINT! XD)

      I am SO glad you kept the 36 page version! Yes!!!! OUR SOULS CANNOT BE CRUSHED!!! *high-fives*

      Also, CHEERS TO NOT BEING ALONE!!!!! *flings cookies everywhere*

      Liked by 1 person

  4. #fictionallivesmatter
    #loveit
    Like you, I can understand the needs for word limits, but they are awfully irritating, aren’t they? More stressful than helpful. And come on, which writer is clamoring for *more* stress in their lives? No thank you.
    Although I’ve discovered killing characters is an excellent stress reliever.
    #fictionallivesmatter

    Liked by 2 people

    1. #whythankyou

      Ugh, yes. They definitely serve a purpose, but they really do stress me out… XD I mean, I’m not supposed to have grey hairs until I’m eighty, right??? RIGHT????

      SQUEE!!! YESSSSS! Kill ALL OF THE CHARACTERS!!!! #fictionallivesmatter

      Wait.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I think I wrote ONE story set to a word limit (outside of school assignments with a page limit), and I’ve never tried it again. I wouldn’t say I hate word limits, but apparently I have avoided interacting with them because I know trying to write a short story is a doomed, futile goal for me. They will always turn longer, and most likely spawn another series.
    But maybe I want to try for the challenge…? Nah, I don’t need anymore new ideas.
    -Jethan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But you wrote a nice short story about the murderous peep!!!! YOU CAN DO THIS!!! *flings cookies in your face*

      But YESSSSSSSS. I really don’t like word limits, and I can ALSO relate to not being able to write short stories. It’s like my mind somehow turns every single thought in my head into a full-fledged novel??? But I must say that I love how you turn everything into a large project because EEK I NEED MORE MIRANDA’S MADNESS LIKE YESTERDAY.

      I also want to try and write another short story, similar to Gretel, but I’m currently pouring all of my noveling focus into everlost… *hobbles away to shriek into the void*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, well there was no word limit for the Cursed Peep, so I guess that worked out. Except WordPress devoured it. Must’ve been a secret word limit then. As such, I must agree that I despise word limits. 😛

        I will try to work on more of Miranda’s Madness, I just…WHAT ARE THE VILLAINS DOING, I HAVE NO IDEA!!!
        Hmm…Many November would be a good time to write a fresh short story?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, yes. The secretly secret word limit that no one except WordPress knows exists… It devours the hard work of writers and refuses to post everything they’ve worked tirelessly to create… Word limits really are terrible… XD

          YESSSS!!! MORE! MORE!!!! But also OH NO!!! because it sounds like you hit a plot problem… *sobs for three thousand years with you* November WOULD be a good time to start a fresh story… I’m hoping to write the second book in my dualogy, but I guess we’ll just have to see how this second draft goes… XD Blech!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. DOWN WITH THE BLOODY BIG HEAD!

            Wait…

            Plot problems are the worst… UGH, I know!!!! I really want to! I’m confident that I’ll be able to, but you know how second drafts are…

            They’re much colder than the first…

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Alas, I really only know how unifinished mixed drafts are. xD
            “This scene is draft 1. These scenes are draft 4. This scene is draft 1,857,387. xD

            I imagined a cold, dead body. The draft has been stabbed, and normally it would spew dead ink, but the manuscript is now this dead guy in a white coat. Yup.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Ugh, I TOTALLY hear you, haha! That is going to be a painful truth once I finish this second draft…

            “Okay… Chapters 1-18 are second draft, while chapters 19-2249478 are first, with a spattering of second, with possibly some infinite drafting loops stuck in there…”

            OH MY WORD!!!!! XD

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Sigh, writing is hard. But it’s exciting too! Infinite drafting loops are the worst.

            Oh, I meant RED ink, it would usually spew red ink, but now the manuscript is anthropomorphized. Wow, I spelled that correctly. xD

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Infinite drafting loops ARE the worst. They are insurmountable.

            I actually think I read it as red ink the first time?? But I just now looked back and OH MY WORD, DEAD INK!!!! XD XD XD That is THE BEST!!!! And excuse me while I go look that word’s definition up on google, hahahaha! XD

            Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess I have a question??? Like… who would make you have a word limit except a competition??? WHAT IS THE REASON, SIR???

    Also, as we all know, my stories are too SHORT so… I rather despise the Opposite Word Limit… more like the Word Goal. Why does it exist.

    Also this comment is weirdly short. What is wrong with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I had a word limit when writing my blog post for Camp NaNoWriMo, so I was pretty anxious about that, haha!! 😂 But THERE IS LITERALLY NO REASON FOR WORD LIMITS EVER, OBVIOUSLY. 😂

      Ugh. Us writerly folk should just do away with every single word thing ever to have existed. We should switch interpretive dances, instead… Word limits, word goals, words… BAN THEM ALL!!! BAN THEM!!!

      This is peculiarly short!! WHAT HAS HAPPENED, MY DEAR BEAN???

      Like

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