I am pretty sure I haven’t mentioned this in recent posts, but I am attempting NaNoWriMo this month. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Each November a huge group of writers and hopeful-writers gather and rather crazily attempt to write 50,000 word novels in that month, or roughly 1,667 words a day. Despite being swamped as always, I wanted to tackle this this month. I planned to use this to finish my already in progress novel, about 11k in so far.
Rewind to yesterday afternoon and picture me, staring at a blank Scrivener doc, feeling utterly useless. Why won’t the words come out? Why can’t I write a thousand words easily like ‘everyone else’? How will I ever be an author if I can’t write as fast I should? I stink.
At about 6 o’clock last night, after spending precious hours agonizing over the few hundred words I managed to write, I tweeted something along the lines of:
“This is ridiculous. I’m sorry, but I just can’t write this many words in a day. I don’t think I can do NaNo.”
In response, I got about 5 people telling me to keep trying, to let go of my Inner Editor, all that sort of stuff. The people who told me this stuff meant it in a great and encouraging way, and they’re lovely for helping me that way. But it seemed to drive a wedge between me and seemingly the rest of the writing world. On one side is me, clinging to my triple digit word counts, and on the other is all of the others, the ones who succeed, the ones who can sometimes write 12,000 freaking words in a day. It’s pretty hard not to feel like a failure thinking of someone writing thousands of words a day and you still struggling.
But after quite a bit of introspection, I discovered what I knew all along. I’m not like that. I can’t write 1,667 words a day. I can’t write 1,000 words in a day, either, unless I’m feeling particularly inspired. And why should I be expected to? Why does this feel wrong, my inability to write thousands of words on whim? It’s just me.
Part of the reason I love to write so much is because I believe communication is beautiful. That it’s one of the greatest gifts we have as humanity, and writing allows me to speak to people without ever meeting them or actually saying a word. I am like this in person, too. Words are so, so powerful, so I take extra care to make sure the ones I write and the ones I say are empowering. This means, sometimes, that I am slow to speak. It also means that I can’t sit down and write randomly. I can’t write the first words that pop into my head, I have to think them through. Call that my Inner Editor if you’d like, but I call it me. It’s just who I am, someone who contemplates things.
People who can write thousands of words in a day are amazing, and in no way do I mean that they aren’t as good as me. Oh gosh, no. I hope you don’t get that idea. I admire those people from the bottom of my heart. Their devotion to their stories is unbelievable, and their energy is contagious.
But I thought it would be nice to write a post about the other people, the ones who agonize over every word and come out immensely proud of that paragraph or even page. Remember that race between the super slow tortoise and the sprinting hare? The tortoise won. Why? Because the hare (NaNo-er) got tired and had to take a nap (really long revisions) while the tortoise continued slowly walking by (with his measly word counts but very limited revisions) and won. But ‘winning’ isn’t really the point here. Both finish eventually, because each are totally legitamate ‘competitors’. To me, finishing in a month isn’t as important as finishing with a good product.
I’m still registered with NaNo, but I’m shrugging off the pressure. My daily goal is now 833 words a day, half of the NaNo goal, which is good for me. And I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise. We *technically* aren’t supposed to worry about word counts, anyway.
So there you have it, all. Remember that slow writing is never unequal to fast writing. Just write, okay? We shouldn’t really care that some people write slower than others. That’s all.
Love and writing luck to everyone!
“After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”
~Aesop’s Fables, The Tortoise and the Hare
**EDIT: Thanks SO much to WordPress for making this a Featured Post, and to everyone finding my blog through that. I am appreciative of every single one of you- thank you for the encouragement, the stories, the NaNo discussion, everything! You make this even more joyful than it usually is. It’s a beautiful thing, when I write something I’m passionate about and people feel better about themselves after reading! I’m trying to respond to every comment, so keep ‘em coming! Much love to all of you, Olivia.**