I will usually try to post my day’s writing experience on the day I worked, but as I was up until 10:30 pm last night and my husband was trying to sleep in the room where I write, I decided to hold it off until this morning.
Truth is, I did not meet my writing goals on the first day of my challenge. I am shooting for 2742 words/day to meet a 85,000 word count goal* and finish the novel, but I only achieved 1925. I’m behind by 817 words, bu I’m actually glad I failed to reach my goal.
Why am I glad? Because it gives me an opportunity to talk about goals, failing or achieving them, and how we talk to ourselves about it. There were a lot of reasons I didn’t achieve 2742 words yesterday. And here are my excuses:
- I was really rusty. I haven’t written a first draft since February of 2015 and wringing those 1925 words out yesterday was really hard work.
- It was a Sunday, so I had a limited amount of time without the family at home.
- Starting anything new for me is a mental obstacle. I have to make myself feel prepared, so I organized my desk, made a spreadsheet to keep track of progress, made a novel template so every time I start a new novel it’s ready to go, and looked over a few notes before I began. I also sat there and stared at the computer for awhile because though I’ve known how this book was going to start since forever, I had a sudden brain bunny that said here are two more chapters to write before that first chapter. I may not use them, but I’m writing them anyway.
And you know what? Those excuses are okay. I wrote. It was hard, but I got words on the page. They may even be complete throw away words because I’m not positive I need them, but we’ll see. I’d rather write too much than too little to be honest.
The point here is, we all have things happening in our lives (and sometimes in our heads) that mean we can’t always meet that word count goal. It’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for it. I know that on a good day I can bust out 5k words, so having an off day doesn’t mean the challenge is scraped for me.
And if you’re a slower drafter, then don’t expect too much of yourself. Set yourself a challenge that is achievable, otherwise you will just get down on yourself. If you can only get out 500 words on a good day, don’t expect yourself to suddenly write 3k. If you prefer to edit as you go, then maybe the NaNo style of just get the words out isn’t for you.
Personally, I used to be an edit-as-you-go writer. Then I tried a NaNo style writing to just get the words out. I liked both to be honest. So I do a mix. Sometimes I have to reread what I’ve written to keep my head in the writing space it should be in. Sometimes I reread a whole chapter and edit a little to get myself ready for starting a new day. Sometimes I need to do a small bit of research to name a character or select a city or something that helps me move on. The word count doesn’t have to be the be-all of your writing unless you want it to be.
Allow yourself the room to breathe and fail. Failure is okay. Because if even at the end of a NaNo-style writing you have 30k words, or 25k words, or whatever you were able to achieve, you still have thousands of more words than when you started to begin with.
* My word count goal is arbitrary. I want to finish a novel in 31 days and I estimate I need 80k-90k to achieve that. If I use the median number of 85k that gives me 2742 words/day, but as long as I have a finished novel by the end of the 31 days, I don’t care what the word count is.