Listening to Myself

So I wrote a post saying not to beat yourself up about how much you do or don’t write. Well, no sooner did I finish that post than I found myself doing exactly that. Somewhere along the line I had decided that when I wanted to write at night that I needed to finish an entire chapter. I couldn’t just write a page or two. It had to be a whole chapter or I was some sort of failure. So I found myself not writing. Not because I didn’t want to but because I knew I was either too tired or too unmotivated to finish an entire chapter (which might be more than 5000 words). Why? Why did I do that to myself?

Honestly, I don’t know. No one told me I had to finish a chapter. No one said, “Oh, you only wrote a single page? Wow. Slacker,” or anything like that. If it was anything, it was that I liked waking up and telling my wife I had a new chapter for her to read. But she didn’t really care if I did or didn’t. So, it was like this self-imposed writing goal that meant nothing to anyone including me. And all it did was keep me from writing. So I gave myself permission to write as little as I wanted. A paragraph. A word. It didn’t matter.

And you know what happened? I became much more productive.

Not only was I writing a paragraph or page now and then, but I was completing more chapters than I had when I had my stupid “one chapter a sitting” goal. And that was sort of the point. Like I said in the review post, you’ll never sell a book if people don’t know about it. You’ll never finish a book if you don’t write it. Even if is one sentence a night, you’ll finish it in 13 years. Sure, that’s a long time but you’re not writing a sentence a night are you? In a page of my current manuscript, I have around 500 words. If you wrote one of those a day, you’d finish your book in about 4 months. That’s pretty good.

So, for the week or two that I had my goal in place, I barely finished a chapter a week (my chapters are between 8 and 10 word doc pages long). When I gave myself permission to just finish a page or less (I generally can’t sit down without finishing two pages but it happens), I did two chapters in a week. Not saying this will be your experience or that I will maintain this pace (my Audioholics work has been slow lately) but it can happen. Relax, don’t beat yourself up, and write. Even if it is just a word (though I did the math and a 70k book would take you 191 years at a word a day so you might want to aim a bit higher).