November Week 2

It’s the second week of November which means some of you are bemoaning your NaNoWriMo word counts. Others are looking at the posted word counts of other writers and wringing your hands in dismay.

Stop worrying.

The process of writing isn’t a competition with anyone other than yourself. If you write 50,000 words in a month or a year doesn’t particularly matter. What matters is what you learn about how YOU write.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo (or an alternative January version of it– let’s face it November is a crap month for doing this) four times. I’ve never hit 50,000. The closest I got was 46,000. Writing at that kind of pace for a month drains me dry and makes everyone around me miserable.

I think I started my SRS WRITING with a goal of writing 10,000 words a week. Which, turned out to be crazy talk for me at the time. I lowered it and fought with it and argued with myself over how much I SHOULD be writing. I tried posting word counts publicly. I tried to shame myself into writing more. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Tracking what I wrote DID help. It let me see patterns. I wish now I’d kept even better records of where and when along with how much.

Writing always has an element of self-discovery. Learning your pace and your method is part of that self-discovery. Some people will learn that they can write 50,000 words in a month. I learned that I don’t work that way. Not yet. Maybe not ever. 46,000 words left me drained. It was like running the gas tank empty on the freeway to learn just how many gallons it really held. Sure, the information was valuable– but there are easier methods.

When I was a young actor I was commiserating to an older theater friend about a production I was in, and he told me, “Every director can teach you something even if that’s never to work with that director again.” I think that holds true for life experiences and people.

Hang in there. Push yourself how you need to push yourself to learn what you need to learn about yourself. No matter what happens this month you’ll know yourself and your writing that much better.