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.