Posted by Tim Stobbs on November 24, 2014
So far this month I’ve written more than I ever thought possible in a single month. I’m currently at ~39,000 words on my novel. Which for those that are curious that would be about 156 pages or 78 blog posts. I really do think I will hit the 50,000 word goal by Nov 30.
Yet while finishing the first draft of my novel is a good thing to achieve from all this time I’ve been putting in, I’ve also learned more about myself than I thought possible.
When I started this challenge this month, I had this idea in my head of what kind of writer that I am. I needed quiet to write, I needed to not be too tired, and I needed to somewhat interested in what I was writing. I also thought I was a writer that worked best with a bit of plot developed and then make up the rest as I go. I also tended to to write from the start to the end.
Now I have learned all of that was excuses. Excusing to prevent myself from writing, excuses on how I thought I worked. Now I know I can write just about anywhere at anytime in any mood including 10:30pm, when exhausted, with music blasting away in my ears with a scene I couldn’t care less about.
I also learned that it is ok to make stuff up as you go. Tangents are fine. You may not use it, but it may turn into an important scene in the book. But the most important lesson that I’ve learned as a writer is this: writing is not editing and vice versa.
For years I would read what I had previously written and edit instead of writing. Thus never actually finishing the book and editing the first chapter like seven times over. Now I’ve finally learned to just shut down that part of my brain and just focus on writing for a while. So it doesn’t matter if I have plot paradox (fix it later), different character hair colour (fix it later), change the family tree (fix it later), really crappy pacing (fix it later)…end of the world on the wrong day of the week (fix it later).
So yes I’ll have a tonne of editing work to do at the end of this month, but that’s ok because that is editing…not writing.
The other things I’ve learned about myself are:
- I do very well with bar charts and daily writing goals to get something done. Yes the pace of 1667 words a day is a bit high to do all the time, but ~1000 words are more reasonable.
- I do well with some kind of writing support. Just someone to talk to about it and help keep myself sane during the process.
- Writing 2000 words is hard, but 200 is easy. So I tend to write in little blocks of 200 words or so. Then I do another 200…until you end up at 2000.
- Just how much damn time I was wasting at month because of movies and Netflix…it’s mind blowing when I gave those up for the month to do this.
So of course I realized that if a person can write 1000 words a day 8o% of the time you can write 292,000 words a year…or one novel, one non-fiction book, a blog three times a week and a collection of short stories. ALL of them in one year even with a full time job (granted they might not been edited yet, but you get the idea).
Yet the best thing of all about this month was this…for the first time in my adult life I feel utter no guilt about my writing. I used to have a constant feeling in my mind that I should be working on writing, but not do it. This month I haven’t felt that at all and it is the best feeling in the world.
In the end, I now know I don’t have to save $500,000 to be a writer. I can do that today and right now but just writing…shockingly obvious I know, but I can say I really didn’t fully understand that until this month.
So what have you done that taught you a lot about yourself? Did it change your view of the world? If so, how?