I’ve had a couple of writing epiphanies recently and they’ve completely change how I approach the keyboard each day. For the first time in maybe ever I’m starting to really feel like I know what I’m doing. I think I’ve stumbled upon “my process” and have a plan going forward instead of just flailing around like I always used to. I’m really excited about a bunch of things I’ve got in the pipeline and I’ve high hopes for 2015. I’ll digest those revelations and how they pertain to craft later but, for now, just know that I may, at long last, be getting the hang of this writing thing.
That said, prior to this blog post, I haven’t writing a word since December 11th. Eep! I just needed to get Christmas stuff done and something had to give. It’s one of the longest stretches I’ve gone without writing since I started keeping track and I really hated going that many days without it. It felt wrong and I was just itching to get back into it which tells me that I’ve finally conditioned myself to make this a consistent habit even though I know I’ll probably never be part of the Write Every Single Day club. But it’s a good reminder that, no matter how far I’ve come, I still fall off the wagon sometimes.
Back on November 25th, I passed my writing goal of 400,000 words for the year. The fact that I wrote 85,279 in November alone certainly didn’t hurt and I ended November with 406,253 words for the year. It’s not just the most I’ve ever written in a single year, it was also a heck of a writing year for finishing projects and publication. I always go into December on an incredible word high and this year was my biggest yet.
But NaNoWriMo always burns me out a bit (I love it but being an ML is a lot of work) and then the chaos of the holidays hits and December is usually one of my weakest writing months. In addition to just being busy, I’ve usually already passed my goal for the year so writing I do in December doesn’t feel like it counts. (This is Moon Logic, I’ll grant you.) I sprint through NaNoWriMo and then limp towards the end of the year with a whimper.
Then I had a one of the aforementioned epiphanies. Why didn’t I just end my writing year in November every year from now on? Then I can use the motivation of NaNo to power through and reach my goal for the year at the same time. And if December is chaos, like December always is, and I don’t get a lot done, it doesn’t matter! It’s just the first month of a long year of writing ahead.
Since I’d already hit my writing goal for the year anyway, this seemed like the ideal time to implement this new plan. Poe help me, I’m going for 500,000 words again this year which would be right where I was before I got offtrack with the arrival of the little miss.
To that point…
The numbers. They mock me. But it’s OK because it’s a very respectable start.
It’s a very small change but it really feels like a big weight has been lifted which probably means I take this yearly word count challenge way too seriously. But, since I used to go months at a time without writing anything and years without finishing a single thing, both of which aren’t an issue now, I’m going to continue to be way too invested in my little yearly goal because apparently it’s working! I struggled for years to even hit the 50k in a month for NaNoWriMo and I did it three times this year alone. Three times!
I had to go through every single post on this site for a project you’ll hear about later and it was amazing to me what a mess my writing life was just a few years ago. Reading through all those old entries made me realize just how many posts I had the gist of which were “ugh, haven’t written in months waaaaa” and all these complaints about not having time to write and never finishing anything that I hear echoed all the time from other new writers in my NaNoWriMo area. When I think of the irony! I was complaining about not having enough time then and here I am now, with less time than ever, and my output has increased 100 times.
I can’t stress enough how much just setting a goal and starting to keep track of my writing over the course of the year has completely taken me from wanna be writer with no idea what she’s doing to career writer with a path forward in only a few years. Maybe word count doesn’t work for you but find something, anything, that allows you to measure your progress and then start setting goals. Even a modest goal that you can stretch as you grow will make you see an immediate change in how you work and, before you know it, you’ll be regularly surpassing your own expectations. Being accountable, even just to yourself or a silly spreadsheet, can have amazing results.