So let me tell you about my September:
I decided that I was going to make a serious push toward finishing the first draft of my current project. I figured* that it would take about thirty thousand words to get there. If I broke it down to daily word count goals, I could get there by writing a thousand words a day, every day for the month.
As daily word count goals go, this was pretty daunting for me, but I rolled up my metaphorical sleeves (It was still warm at the time), and I got to work.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it was easy. I documented my progress every Friday on my blog, and let me tell you that there were points where I didn’t think I was going to make it.
But I did.
In fact, I ended up with 37 thousand words and some change…and didn’t get to the end of the draft. I’m currently at 101 thousand words and climbing.
In addition to word count, I wanted it to become a habit.
There’s where I started to go off the rails. You see, somewhere along the way, I had changed the definition of “Habit” from something that you do regularly, to something that you do every day–without fail–no excuses.
And who wouldn’t want that? 30 thousand words a month is 120 thousand in 4 months. At that pace you could knock out 2 novels a year and have 4 months left over for editing.
So when life caught up with me, and rendered it…not impossible to hit that 1000 words…but certainly self destructive. I opted to let the word count goal slide.
And I got pretty down on myself about it for a couple of days. Forget that I’d written every, single, day for over a month now, forget that I’d put down nearly 40 thousand words during that time–easily my most productive writing span. What was the focus?
How I’d “Failed.” How I’d allowed myself to break this string of consecutive days, as if they hand out publishing contracts based solely on how many days in a row you’ve sat down to work.
And I realized something about myself: Unless I allow myself to appreciate the work I’ve done for its own merit, regardless of how much work I do, it will never be enough. There’s always the next day, and the one after that, and the one after that…there will only be one time in my life where there won’t be that next day.
And that’s crap.
You’ve got to take the time to look back on what you’ve done. If for nothing else than to evaluate how you got to where you are. Take note of the times when it didn’t seem like work at all, and compare them to the times where it was a slog to string two words together. You can’t be too busy chopping firewood, to not sharpen the axe every now and again.
And don’t let the work keep you from opportunities to go out and experience stuff. There needs to be a balance, and it is frighteningly easy to lose sight of that.
I am making these promises to myself (and I’m doing it here to implement some kind of accountability):
I will not write myself to destruction. Yes, I can always do more, but there does come a time where you’re doing more harm than good.
I will recognize that I need to refill the creative well. Some times that will mean a break from writing entirely, and that’s ok.
I will acknowledge the necessity of having a work-life balance and I will keep that in mind, while not using it as an excuse to not do the work when needed.
Who is with me?
*Yeah, me and Math. Right?