(If You Want to Write...)
Don't forget to enter the Violet in Private giveaway!
Some writers (like Chris Naty of www.nanowrimo.org) say that one should never overuse the word count function in Microsoft Word. Word-count-checking every five minutes is a no-no. I can see the thinking behind the anti-obsessiveness, but I am in the Other Camp that says, check those words all you want.
I am goal-0riented, which means that I get frustrated if it appears I have made no progress. Word Count erases my frustration.
The Big Project. For my novel, I keep track of my current word count, my goal word count for the day and the difference between them (Words to Go.) I also have a goal page count and the actual page count (for example, 10/100) and what percentage that is (10%.) This way I'm always making progress.
The Little Project. For essays and articles and short stories, use Word Count to judge how much you want to work on said project for the day. For essays in particular, I like to outline a 5-point essay with "125 words" or "60 words" attached to each point. It gives me an idea of the structure of the essay, and a goal to work towards.
I don't think this would work with poetry, but I'm not a poet.