The title gives it away. Most, if not every piece of writing advice I’ve come across tells you to write and do it daily. Some lists of advice tell you what does and does not ‘count’ as writing. Personal goals depend on the writer, but in my world, with my philosophies, all writing counts, every word, every number, every symbol, all of it counts. If you put utensil to paper or hands to keyboard, it counts. Every kind of writing has its own specific format, rules, and techniques to master.
Drafting: There is no writer on earth who won’t count this form. It is the most obvious and common form, and the most practical for word count based goals. The styles and technique vary from writer to writer and have as wide a spectrum as language itself.
Clusters/Mind maps/Bubble maps: One of a group of writing exercises. Great for generating and connecting ideas to plan a bigger project.
Lists: Yes, grocery and to-do lists count here. They’re categorized ideas and the bottom line of decision making remains. Items can get crossed off because of their completion or uselessness. It all depends on the needs of the moment. Lists generate and connect ideas as well, coming in handy for minds that group things together.
Blog posts: Blogging has a language and format all its own, as do all of the writing types, and practice makes perfect. Depending on the type of blog, different rules apply, making this a great experimental ground as well as giving you a community and possible feedback.
Freewrites/Rants/Brain dumps: While the general goal is to get words on paper, paying little to no mind to grammar or spelling, rules can come later. Many popular posts are rants written in a humorous or sarcastic voice, giving them their relatable, raw quality.
Emails: Here’s where I hit shaky ground as far as others agreement, but like I said, every form of writing has its own set of rules and guidelines. Whether you’re writing to a friend, teacher, or professional, they all have their own format so to speak. Each category gets their own language because you wouldn’t write an email to a friend or relative in the same manner as you would a teacher or boss. Each email is another opportunity to practice all the languages and become fluent, knowing their respective time and place.
Texting: Emojis count here, too. Each symbol has a message all its own, varying from person to person because of human perception. There are universal symbols and codes for everyone, as well as shared language between you and your friends. Every person gets a varied language of his or her own and no two are the same.
Math/Scientific problems: Yes, most of it is numbers, but mathematics and science are some of the most structured subjects a writer can encounter, with precise rules that must be followed to get the desired result. With little to no practicality in word based goals, this form may only be reserved for writers looking for a variety, a challenge, or a change of pace.
Computer Language/Codes/Puzzles: Every code on earth has rules and a unique language, great for a mix-up and a new learning experience. Learning them can be a great help in websites and writing about technology, so don’t knock them until you try them.
Okay, I know I hit some thin ice, but hear me out. As I’ve mentioned, every writing form in the universe has a language and methods unique to that form. Every type has its purposes and depending on your goals, whether word count based, page based, completion based, or learning based, there’s a place for each one of them.
Drafts, blog posts, and freewrites are your best bets in categories for word based goals, as they’re the easiest to count in digital format while the others will get you little progress. They’re also what you’re most familiar with as far as writing goes, so they have the utmost importance in a writer’s life.
Lists and maps are great generators and connectors. Not only will they get you started, but they can help get you from point A to point Z faster than you may think. Also, seeing connections will aid in different ways of thinking and generation in itself.
Texting and emailing have their own, more casual language in our fast-paced world of technology. While not conventional or practical for amount based goals, they help in the human language of natural communication and can come in handy if you need practice in dialogue. Emails, depending on their recipient, may be more casual or letter like in format, and it’s great to have a handle on both.
Your numbered codes, puzzles, and problems will get you almost nowhere with word count based goals, but they’re great obscure ways to flex your writing muscles and learn something new in a structured format with rules and discipline. They have their place for times when the brain needs something different as they’re some of the least common encounters for writers unless they write in or about those fields. If you’re looking for something out of the box and structured in its own right, take a look around for some of these as a fresh exercise.
Though I’m sure many will disagree, every form of writing, no matter how monotonous or unconventional, how practical or nonsensical, has its purpose. Whether it’s to get a certain number of words or pages or to write pages of numbers and symbols, every form of writing has its own language, format, rules, and style. You’re better off having them and not needing them than needing them and not having them.
As a final note: follow your own rules. Set your own goals, and don’t judge others for how they think or write. We all have our own guidelines and methods to our madness. Write and follow your own rules or, if you’re writing for a community, challenge, or exercise, follow theirs. If you say no texts, no texts. If an exercise says no emails, don’t count them. If a challenge says you must omit a form or style of writing, do what the rules tell you. It’s good practice for not only your writing but your ability to follow rules and handle structure.
Above all else, get writing done!