What counts as writing?

When you are more in a development stage (world, characters, plotting), what do you count as writing? A lot of notes are made, that will not be used in the writing project, but the descriptions and background stories make your creations more lively even though you use those initial notes only as a reminder or hint of characteristics.

Should this count rather as “hours” put into progressing with a project or do you, nevertheless, count words on such notes? What’s the best way to measure output?

[Writing poetry must be tough, so little output, so much thought put into it.]

I think like you mentioned with poetry, it just depends on what you’re actually doing at that point.

Take editing for example, which is what I’ll be doing for camp in a few weeks. A realistic editing goal for 30 days might be a few hundred words - it might even be negative words. However, you’re still putting hours and hours of work into improving your writing.

In a plotting and development stage, I could all the words I do as ‘writing’. It’s a loose term for it, but I might write a 3,000 word species description to explore a new species, and once I know more about that species myself, my writing of my story later is going to have so much more depth.

I’d also count about half to three quarters of the time spent sitting at the computer researching as writing, because I’m realistic enough to know I get distracted easily. After all, you’ve got to know what your character looks like, maybe have some pictures if visual aids help you, as well as how long it takes to die from [insert method here], right?


In a way I think it’s a bit like training for a sports event or something. Stretching, weights training, etc aren’t the main event, but they equip you to perform better at whatever it is you’re training for. Warm up writing exercises let you practice writing skills, while figuring out world building makes the book better. It’s all “work” really, and it all contributes to the end result even if it’s not visible.