The comps wordcount passed the halfway mark at approximately 9:15 p.m. last night. This is the point where I finished refining a paragraph from disjointed notes into a coherent statement, and Word told me that my cursor came after 5,063 words. The cursor was sitting just over halfway down the 17th double-spaced page.
No, I am not going to force myself to get to 10,000 words, the lower limit of the "expected length" range we were given. I am going to make the points I need to make, citing as many of the 116 journal articles on my reading list as I can. My advisor's inevitable requests for clarification may put me into the proper range, of course, but I prefer to keep to concise statements rather than try to make an arbitrary word count.
The most frustrating thing about a theory paper is that I have no idea whether any of what I'm saying is true, or even reasonable. Have I somehow missed huge swathes of the literature, or misread critical points? I try to take comfort in more senior grad students' assurances that I won't be failed as long as I demonstrate some competence in theoretical arguments, but I can't help but cringe at the potential expectation that this be publication-worthy. I have enough confidence that it's accurate to base my dissertation work on it, but not to let anyone who actually knows this field look at it. Wasn't I supposed to be feeling like I had a good grasp on this topic by now?
Meanwhile, the current status of the paper is 5,459 pages, spread across a full 18 pages. Add all the notes I have on sections that are not ready for proper writing yet, and the word count is 7,234. It'd all be in good shape if it didn't have to make convincing sense.