Pre­am­ble: For a lit­tle over the past month, I’ve been writ­ing 2000 words per day. I made the deci­sion to do this for a year in order to up my lit­er­ary out­put after a year of frus­tra­tion with the same out­put. I have sev­eral sto­ries I want to tell, and unlike my more youth­ful friend sin YA, I don’t have decades to tell them, and I need to get on with it. I announced my goal on Twit­ter in early Decem­ber and have been post­ing word counts each day. Usu­ally, I don’t say much pub­licly about my writ­ing goals or share my frus­tra­tions with the same.

This time, I decided to make it pub­lic because it was the best way to make myself account­able. Since I began the Year of Writ­ing (#yearofwrit­ing on Twit­ter), over 70k new words have appeared in two dif­fer­ent man­u­scripts. These are hor­ri­bly messy and mis­shapen words that need hours of edit­ing to even be read­able, and a quar­ter of them will even­tu­ally be chopped. The impor­tant thing is that the words are there to work with. The Point: None of this is about pub­licly pat­ting myself on the back. I’m a writer. It is my job to write, and I don;t deserve pats for just doing my job. No, this is about the tweets and DMs I’ve got­ten from friends and fol­low­ers who feel bad about the words they have not writ­ten in the same amount of time.

The worst thing about writ­ing is that there is no way to mea­sure our out­put except against other writ­ers. We look at peo­ple you have two books in one year (or three) or sign new con­tracts, and we com­pare that to our out­put and feel lessened. We read tweets and Face­book posts and blogs and word counts while the mean lit­tle voice in our heads repeats the mantra that we aren’t good enough, that we are fail­ures and frauds. What we for­get, of course, is that almost no one shares the low points in pub­lic. We don’t tweet about the con­tract we didn’t get, the man­u­script that failed after two drafts, or the three months we went with­out a word on the page because, well, shit hap­pens and life gets in the way.

Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or some­one with a pas­sion that you want to pur­sue, let’s turn down the vol­ume on the mean lit­tle voice. Don’t lis­ten to its noise, and what­ever you do, don’t beat your­self up: There are too many oth­ers will­ing to do that, and you don’t need to help them out.

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