Writing Life: Take the pressure off...

A few days ago I came across a Word document in my "potential blog posts" file that intrigued me. I'm not sure when I wrote the content but the idea is still applicable

The point of the narrative is mostly two-fold: 1)  quit beating yourself up if you don't make your daily word count, and 2) write every day, regardless.

Good advice.

As I was reading through the rough copy, I realized the content was probably an email I had written to someone else, and had copy/pasted into a Word doc. It read like an attempt to offer advice, perhaps to encourage or inspire someone who was otherwise feeling like shit because of not writing, or not meeting daily writing goals. Hey, been there. Done that. And honestly, after 30 years of chasing this writing dream, I just have to say this: 


Nothing halts the good stuff faster than negative crap we poke into our brains. Stop dwelling on it. Just write every damn day. That's my advice. I don't care if it's two words or two thousand words. Just get words on the page. Every. Day. 

I thought perhaps you'd like to read that email. It spoke to me again. Perhaps it will speak to you.

I don't know if it will help, but lately I've been having more success allowing myself to write less each day. Knowing I had a deadline-filled year, I started off months ago with a strict calendar and a 2500 word a day fiction goal. I kept getting frustrated because I wasn't making my writing goal every day.  
Then, I decided to say fuck it to the 2500 goal. I realized I was comfortably writing between 1000 and 1500 daily. While beating myself up over not reaching the bigger goal, I failed to realize I was still significantly moving the book forward each and every day by writing less than the goal. And, I met all three of my last deadlines while doing that, and I should make my deadline at the end of the month on the current WIP.
Why the difference? Less pressure, I think. I've divided out my day loosely -- fiction in the morning, non-fiction in the afternoon. It's helping to balance all my current projects, and I've been happier with my production. 
So, what I am saying here is this: give yourself a break. Know your firm deadlines, maybe create a timeline of sorts, and allow yourself to write LESS each day, as long as you write consistently EVERY DAY. I am finding the every day advice to be pure gold for me. I don't put it off anymore. 
p.s. This may go without saying but for productivity, I think writers also have to find their optimal writing time of day. For me, it is first thing in the morning. Your mileage may vary, of course!

Make sense? Sometimes we set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Many authors can pound out 2500 words or more, every single day. Others simply cannot. We all have varying responsibilities, day jobs or side-hustles, and personal obligations. No two of us are alike. Just because Author A has a goal of 2500 words a day does not mean that Author B should too.

Be kind to yourself. Set the goal lower or not at all. Find your habit niche and write. Then, celebrate what you accomplish.

One last note: With respect to author production, I believe social media can contribute to the guilt factor. Nothing is worse than reading in your news feed how successful others are--especially if you are feeling crappy about your own production. Authors are vocal about hitting their goals, boasting of enormous word counts (and subsequently how many books they produced and published in a year), and more. They do it to celebrate and validate, and that is okay! But it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like a slacker.


It's still practically the new year. Take stock. Review your practices. Reset your goals and perhaps carve out a new writing path. It's yours. Own it.

(Cross-posted from Maddie James' blog, 1/11/2017, revised)