Did I write enough words today?

Did I write enough words today?

I see on a lot of writing communities where people say, “I wrote five thousand words today!” with lots of congratulations from others in the community. And it is an achievement to do that.

The problem is that when authors, and especially new authors see this and think, “I only wrote a hundred words, I mustn’t be any good at this writing thing,” and get discouraged.

You should never feel inadequate for not writing thousands of words a day, every day. Writing is a creative process. It is about imparting the ideas you have in your head, usually in a not-so-logical format and putting them down into words.

There will be days where the words will fly through the keyboard, but others where you stare at the screen blankly.

It’s not even writer’s block, it’s about giving your brain the time to organize the thoughts into a coherent pattern. Sometimes, the patterns are fully formed, or close to being formed, while other days, they are like random patches of light flitting through your brain. In the end, if you are making progress, whether you write fifty words or five thousand, then you have been successful.

Progress means real progress, not just “sharpening your pencils,” as my Ph.D. supervisor used to tell me. Sure, it might seem that you’re doing something useful, but if you’re avoiding the real task, then you’re procrastinating.

Remember also that not everyone writes at the same rate. Not to mention that writing five thousand words that are garbage is worse than making no progress at all. Don’t embellish unless there is a reason to, not just to increase the word count.

Most of all, forgive yourself if you have times where you just can’t face the keyboard. Play a game with your kids, read a book, go for a walk, let your brain discharge before coming back to try again.

There is a bit of a culture at the moment where writing more is considered writing better. Sometimes, writing less is writing better. Every word you put down should carry the story further in some way, be it to enrich the world in which your characters live, to let the reader into your characters’ thought processes or to describe the action as it occurs.

And every story takes exactly as many words as it takes to tell.

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