Word Counts Are Lame: A Dive into Writing.

Michael Reynolds
3 min readOct 20, 2023

We have all had classes that are a slog. We have to write an essay, do a project, cite your sources, edit your thesis, all of that annoying work. It is very important, since many fields will have you do writing in some fashion, but other than citing sources, none of that is applicable to every field. However, something that is in nearly every class, that is almost never used in the real world, is word counts.

In case you’ve been blessed in your education, or alternatively not had much education, a word count is something most classes will use for their writing assignments. From the dreaded “5,000+ word essay”, to the small but equally annoying “200 word response” to a simple question. These often feel tedious, unnecessary, and just adding busy work to a problem. You may think that as someone who is a writing major, that types out long sentences, and actually enjoys writing essays, that I would disagree with this viewpoint of tedium.

But I don’t.

See, my viewpoint has always been that whatever sufficiently describes what you need is the best answer. If you can answer a question adequately in 50 words, all the power to you. Fluffing up your response to 100 words or 200 words is excess that might actually detract from the message. Instead of quickly sharing your thoughts or laying out the facts, it is now lodged deep in a word soup that is just there to meet the dreaded word count in order to get full credit.

A better way to implement this would be for the word count to be replaced with a sentence count. Instead of 200 words, it could be 3 setences. The whole reason that word count is a thing is because many lazy or uninterested students will write too little. However, a word count does not solve this problem like teachers and professors think it will. No matter what system you implement, slackers will write poorly thought out sentences. You’re just forcing their word goop to be 200 words instead of 30. A sentence count still makes this goop 3 sentences long, but for the people who genuinely write good stuff in a concise manner, 3 sentences now gives them some room.

In my writing classes, I have to constantly use 200 words for a single, easy to write sentence. In some ways it’s almost like a word problem; “How can I make my easy to write message appropriately convey the same meaning when it quadruples in length?”. However, I only come across it that way since I love writing. To the average person, its a slog, and even to me sometimes, it’s a slog.

Teachers, just let us write the length we want, and judge us off the content of our writing, not the length! Bad writing that is 200 words long is much worse than good writing that is 50 words long, and yet they are equally rewarded half credit. Change that please!

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Michael Reynolds

I write blog posts about anime reviews and other miscellaneous things that interest me.