Friday, October 8, 2010

What is Work?

No, really.  What is work?  I have a planner with my daily word count.  So far this week, I have only written about 4k words in my novel.  Only four thousand!  This, out of a weekly goal of ten thousand.  I see that and I feel weak, I feel defeated, I wonder if I'm doing it right, I dread that I'm getting tired, getting burnt out.  Only four thousand words.  That's pathetic, when I look back to previous weeks, and see that in weeks past I'm six, eight, however many thousands of words into my work.  I've been doing something a little different with my writing since I've started this blog.  I keep a careful count of blog words, and homework words, and free writing, because really, every word written is progress.  Every one!  If I'm writing for school, or for myself, or for an audience, or actually working, any writing done is a chance for improvement.  So I take a closer look at my word count for this week.  I've only done four thousand words for my novel(la?) in progress, but total so far this week (not including today) I've written just over 9.3 thousand words.  Now that is quite a few words in four days.  That includes my blog posts, which though they aren't technically 'work' are still my attempt at social networking, getting my ideas and my writing out there for other people to see.  I also wrote a short story this week, which when edited is going to be my entry for a cash prize contest at the end of the year.  I may have finished a novel, but I don't have any other writing credits to my name, so entering contests and bolstering my writing 'resume' as it were is a pretty big project right now.  Maybe an even bigger one than finishing another novel.
     What am I trying to say with all this?  I'm trying to convince myself to relax.  Relax, you're not burning out just because you've only written four thousand novel words so far this week.  School is just as, if not more, important.  Getting a degree is a big thing for me, and I should be happy that I've finished a novel before getting it.  Now I would love to finish three books by the end of the year, but if I don't, is that such a huge deal?  No.  I've already finished one, and that was my life goal.  Why hurry now, when I'm trying to focus on becoming an active member in an online community, when I'm trying to update a blog five days a week with random thoughts that may or may not have a cohesive theme, when I'm trying to make myself as big of a deal as my work.  If anybody out there is in a similar position, relax!  Any writing is improving.  I'm writing every day.  Every day!  I don't take breaks.  Or at least, I try not to.  I need to be happy with writing, with the act of writing, and not getting hung up on progress, or lack thereof.  I have plenty of time.
     Is anybody out there having similar issues?  Are you getting so wrapped up in getting things done that you refuse to believe that you already are getting things done?  Leave me a comment, send me an email, PM me on Writing Forums.  Alternatively, am I really right in believing that the novel comes first, and everything I'm doing on the side is just fluff?  Let me know.  Leave your thoughts, I would love to hear them.  Tell me what's more important to you - the act of creating, or the act of completion.
     Finally, thank you, everyone that is visiting.  I don't know how many are actually reading, but it makes me feel much less alone in my craft.  I appreciate it, and all of the silent support you're giving just by being a number in my 'stats' page.  I hope everyone out there is getting ready for a fantastic weekend.


  1. Hi Lee,
    I really enjoyed this post. I've just finished my first novel too.
    To be honest, I never got too hung up on my daily word count, basically, I just plodded along and whatever I'd achieved at the end of the day, I was happy with. But I must admit, I never got involved in forums or blogs I just kept hammering away until I'd finished. Right now my book is with a professional editor, I know some people don't agree with this, but for me it was the way forward.
    So now, in between dealing with my editor's annotations I've started a blog and have begun nosying around forums like this one.
    If you'd like to have a look at my blog and leave a comment (isn't it frustrating when you know people are reading but not commenting?)I would love it. Jane x

  2. In her book, "Plain and Simple, Sue Bender writes about the art of making soup while living with the Amish. She talks about how cutting the carrots and chopping the celery is just as important as the finished product. I don't have the book in front of me, but if I recall correctly, she discusses how the enjoyment of every step along the way increases the pleasure she obtains in presenting the finished soup. The Olympic Credo pretty much espouses (sp?) the same view. "It is not the triumph but the struggle. It is not the winning, but the taking part." Lets face it sports fans, if you don't enjoy the journey, the destination won't mean much either. So, in response to your question, they are both important, but perhaps it is in the journey itself, where the true meaning resides.