Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Comparisons

So, the other day, when my kids were with a grandmother for the first half of it, I achieved some amazing results in the realm of word count. When I'm actively working on a novel, my goal for every day is to write 2,000 words. Now, some days this is like pulling teeth. But on a good day, I far surpass that. When I was writing pivotal scenes in Jewel of Persia, I was putting down 5,000 words a day and feeling darn good about it. On Monday, I managed just over 6,500 words in my Annapolis story. 

Is this a record for me? No, but it certainly is since I had kids! And it left me feeling great. Like I accomplished something. Like I was ready to tackle the rest of the manuscript and bring it home.

Then Tuesday came along, and I only wrote 2,400 words. Only--did you catch that? That's still above my daily goal, but it felt disappointing after that amazing 6.5K. And then yesterday, I didn't even bother doing a word count. There was no point, I only wrote two pages. And I was grumpy and grumbling all afternoon because of it, taking most of that frustration out on the five loads of laundry I so did not want to fold but had to. (Yes, the socks got flung into the basket a little harder than necessary, LOL.) But then after I put the kids to bed,  I did manage to get through the scene I was having trouble ending, and into the next, so I'm at a good starting point today. I then jotted down my ideas for the next several scenes, leading up to the climax.

Here's my point in sharing all this--if the rest of you are anything like me, we like to judge ourselves, and we have little to judge on but comparisons. We tend to think "I didn't do as well today as yesterday" or "I'll never be that again." And maybe, in a way, that's true.

But what I need to remember is that today is not yesterday. Yesterday was not Monday. None of those are tomorrow. Goals of one day, season, year, whatever, are not necessarily what we need to be shooting for the next day, season, year, whatever. For instance, I only have another 6,000 words to work with before this manuscript is supposed to be finished (though I might overshoot and have to go back and trim. Big surprise for me, right?). So my goal for today shouldn't be "Write 6K in words." It should be to write the next scenes as succinctly as possible, leaving myself as many words as I can for the conclusion.

It's the same with anything else in life. Sometimes our goals have to be revised for the point of our story we're in right now. Sometimes it's enough to shoot for quantity. But sometimes it's not about more, it's about better-fitting.

This lovely insight brought to you by my inability to think of anything but finishing this book right now, LOL.

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