I posted this blog entry five years ago today. It was true then, it’s true now, it will forever be true.
Did you work today? Are you sure?
There is a trend among many writers, fostered by nifty word-count bars and graphics, to post metrics of daily word count. This is a useful tool. It forces accountability and many of us – lazy writers that we are – need that public accountability to get shit done.
However, the trend is also a dangerous one, because it leads to the feeling that unless you have nailed a certain word count you haven’t actually “done” anything.
We’re all guilty of it – “I did X and Y but I only wrote 500 words so the day’s a failure.”
Let me respond to that as pithily as I know how.
A story isn’t words. Words are what convey the story. The stronger and more effective your conveyance, the better people respond. That’s the goal. But there is more to “writing” than the actual act of crafting sentences.
There is research, and planning, and thinking. Note-taking and chasing down facts, and considering about how it all connects. It may not feel like writing, and it’s not always as much fun as writing (except to the few, the proud, the research junkies), but it feeds the writing. It creates a deeper, more layered and thoughtful story. More, research triggers ideas, and the ideas trigger thoughts, and those thoughts move the story in ways we-the-writer might not have anticipated or planned.
So how can that process be any less “writing a story” than the actual choosing/typing of words?
Idea + Plotting + Research + Word choice + Editing/revising = Writing.
Post your word counts if it works for you. If it doesn’t, if it makes you feel stressed out or unhappy because it highlights the fact that you spent the day ears-deep in research or inputting editorial corrections rather than laying down new words? Don’t. Deep-six the word meter and wallow in the fact that you were doing some damned heavy lifting.
Don’t allow yourself –or anyone else – to discount everything that comes before (or after) the laying down of words as “not writing.” Because you ARE. From inspiration to perspiration to polish. And you should give yourself credit for the whole damned difficult process.
(to find the collection this ended up in, check outhttp://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/bvc-author/laura-anne-gilman/