Or, how I fell in love with NaNo stats in 2010 and never looked back.
One of the more peculiar features of NaNo is being able to see how other writers are doing, especially if—as I’ve done for years—you spend a significant portion of your off–writing time in the regional forum. In the days of old, the moment you visited a forum or your writing buddies list, you saw, at a glance, how many words each and every one of your colleagues had written until that moment.
If you’re (half) as competitive as me, it’s almost inevitable to compare your progress to other people’s, both when you’re writing faster and when you’re writing slower than the majority of a group. In the past nine years, I’ve been on both sides of the statistics curve, and both point of views have their disadvantages. It feels, for lack of a better word, weird to be, well, different.
But the one person you can always keep up with, even race them, if that’s your fancy, is yourself.
Each and every time you write, each and every hundred words you do, you’re doing better than you were doing before. It doesn’t even have to be better than yesterday—it can be better than this morning, or from before breakfast, or from before you went out to hang the laundry. (Yay, Europe living!) You’re successful—quite simply—just by writing.
And then, if you’re following your stats, you can see how you’ve beaten yourself every writing day, and how you’re the best writer ever and how there, really, is no reason for you to quit this novel.
Sometimes, even, you can go beyond your wildest dreams if your push just a little bit harder, like what I’m doing right now with trying to match my personal record from way back when I had all the time in the world (coughcollegecough) and hit the 50k mark at my birthday, on November 17th. If you race yourself, there’s no need to check how other people are doing, either, because your stats’ curve is the only thing that matter in the whole wide world.
Well, that and writing the damned thing in the first place.
So, the next time you beat yourself up because you wrote only—gasp!—260 words, do yourself a favour and be kind to yourself and remind yourself that it’s not just 260 words, it’s 260 words more.
And adding up is one thing that even writers can do.
Photo by the Boston Public Library.
This post was written to be read specifically on Monday, Nov 11th, the day after I’ve probably spent two days in a row with no. new. words. whatsoever. Write write write write write!