I kinda, sorta like competition. As in, if I start something, I’m going to win it. And if you challenge me and I take it up, I will finish it.
I don’t start something then give up. Take NaNo. I’ve not done it every year. Sometimes I don’t have a project I’m actually writing or I know I won’t have time. When I do take it up, I set myself deadlines and I get it done.
This year I’d not written much in June, so I decided to sit down and write a nice 50,000 words during Camp NaNo in July.
I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t going to happen. My brother left for Marine boot camp. My sister and I repainted our room and rearranged it. I was going to Ream Makers at the end of the month. So I dropped the word count down to 30,000 words (see, I can be flexible). All it would take was around 2000 words a day for the days I ought to be able to write—very doable.
I wrote 15,195 words. Total. Over the course of the whole month.
And… I’m okay with that. Now.
Well, kinda. For the most part. I mean *coughs* I’m still learning and working on minor questions like ‘what does success really look like’ and ‘the focus of life is not word counts and books published.’ Knowing the right words and actually feeling them are two different things. Storming troublesome, contradictory emotions.
That’s off topic.
Basically, it all comes down to focus. What is the point of all… this? *gestures vaguely to writing and life in general* If my sole goal in life is to write as many books possible and publish them regardless of anything else, then yeah. Word count is pretty important.
But that’s not my goal.
Writing is a tool to aid my larger goal of inspiring people. Showing them there is so much more than what we can see right now. That good will win and has won already, even if it doesn’t seem physically evident in our lives. Writing is how I work to convey this hope. Yet it’s not the only way.
I ought to convey that same spirit in everything else I do, be it in blog posts, in newsletters, in taking the time to play with siblings or taking a walk so I can relax and refocus. I need to live for something greater than writing. And I need to enjoy life, not run myself ragged, ignoring the very message I want to spread because I’m so busy trying to tell others about it.
In the end, if that means it takes me longer to write a book, then so be it.
I am not my writing. Or my word counts. My writing is simply a tool I use to show truths in the best way I know how. Now, as a tool of such magnitude, it shouldn’t be shuffled off to some corner to dust off whenever I feel like it. If I’m laying around because I’d rather be taking a nap, or if I’m scrolling through Facebook because I don’t want to write, then I need to straighten out my priorities and discipline myself no matter how lovely my bed might sound.
At the same time, once I am doing all I can, I need to stick at that, keep going steady, and not freak out if life interrupts me and I miss a word count one day. Few people down the road are going to remember if I published that novel a month or two late. But they will remember how I made them feel when they emailed or talked and my attitude about life in general.
So make goals, but don’t bind the idea of your success in getting them done without a hitch by a certain deadline. Self-discipline in writing is important, but so is your life. As Sanderson says in his Stormlight Archives, Journey before destination. Your goal is just an endpoint. Most of your life is spent on the journey.
Make it a journey worth having.