I’m participating in the Nanowrimo 2016, a 1-month event happening every November where writers from all over the world are challenged to write a 50,000 manuscript. Although I don’t particularly use the forums on the Nanowrimo website, I checked regularly on Twitter the #NaNoWriMo2016 hashtag, which is used by writers to share their word count, motivational pictures, quotes, pieces of advice, but also their fears and their doubts.
I decided to write this short post after reading several tweets from writers who were gradually losing their confidence and motivation after seeing how far some writers were in their manuscripts compared to them. With a gap of 30,000+ words between their manuscripts, you see the writers at the “bottom” complaining or giving up on their own manuscript because they think they can’t catch up. But is it the right thing to do? The answer is no.
Don’t look at someone else’s word count if you don’t use it as a mean of motivating yourself. The only reason why I would look at someone else’s word count is when I want to motivate myself. There’s no reason for you to feel demotivated just because some writers are faster than you. We all have our own speeds, our own ways of writing. You shouldn’t look at someone else’s word count with jealousy and contempt. Instead, you should be happy for the writer who made it all the way up there. But it means in no way that you can’t reach the same heights. It will just take a bit longer. But the efforts provided by the writer waiting at the top are exactly the same as the ones you need to provide. I’m a slow writer myself, but I never tell myself that I can’t reach the same sky as those who already wrote their 50,000 words. What I tell myself is “Just wait for me at the top, because I will soon be there too.” What matters is not how fast you can finish your manuscript, but whether or not you have the guts to finish it.
Now if you take your time, you also need to work on your manuscript properly. What I mean by that is that although everyone could write 4,000 words a day if they had nothing else to do, not everyone would write 4,000 words in one go. You must adapt your writing time depending on your mood, your physical state, your level of stress, the others tasks you may have to finish, etc. Just because another writer writes 4,000 word in one go doesn’t mean you have to do it. Nor does it mean you have to write 4,000 word as well. You can write less or more. But don’t let your pride take over you. Nothing good will come out of it.
I’m quite a busy person and I don’t always have time to continue my manuscript. Who am I kidding? I’m just very lazy. However, because I acknowledge the fact that I’m lazy, I could adapt my way of writing to prevent my laziness from butting in. During the day, I give myself 30 minutes at different moments of the day/night in which I type as much as I can. Even if I’m not writing anything, I don’t do anything else during those 30 minutes. Sometimes, when I feel extremely tired or lazy, I halve those 30 minutes. It’s all about adapting to the circumstances. Write freely but smartly. Although I’m a bit behind in my Nanowrimo manuscript, I still feel like I progress (slowly but surely) and I don’t feel demotivated in the slightest.
My last piece of advice still concerns pride, but has less to do with writing and has more to do with thinking. You’ve probably heard many times from fellow writers that you should write everything that comes to mind during your first draft. And as a fellow writer, I will tell you the same. Write, write and write. It doesn’t matter if you write horrible sentences, if you feel like a 5-year-old kid could write better than you or if you think you are saying too much. Keep writing. Don’t correct anything. Don’t replace any word. Don’t erase those long descriptions. Don’t criticize your own work. All those things have no place in your first draft. Your first draft is all about putting on paper what you imagine. It’s a draft — something only you can see. Don’t be ashamed of what you write. Once your first draft is done, then you will be able to perfect the world you created that will mesmerize your readers.
I wish you good luck in your manuscript, I’m sure you will create a beautiful pearl.