Wordcount Doesn’t Matter – And Why

So every year, in my procrastination efforts checking on the Ate my Soul/Better than I Hoped/Shoutouts forums, I find something that makes me a little sad. Every year, there are always people that have started or are even on track that find themselves intimidated, or worse, demotivated, by other users’ large wordcounts. Some of them who were otherwise set to have a win may even give up before the end of the month’s arrived because they feel so demotivated by others’ wordcounts. Because of this, it makes me rather antsy about posting anywhere in Ate My Soul, even if I’m trying to offer encouragement, because I’m afraid they’ll take one look at my wordcount, throw their hands in the air, and quit.

And that’s just wrong.

Yes, I have a high wordcount. But let me tell you, it wasn’t always that way. My first year, I barely squeaked across the line of 50k and some change at 7:30PM on the 30th. I struggled (and in truth, I still struggle every year) to get across that finish line. Most everyone that overachieves has struggled or even failed at one point (that would be me again–I failed HARD in January–at the one I run, which is super humiliating–and haven’t been able to write again until September.) The Overachievers thread right now is full of tales of writing misery and RL woe. We’re not superhuman. We struggle and sometimes fail the way everyone else does.

Nano is a self-challenge. That means that whatever YOU do is what should matter to you. If YOU are on track for the goal you want to make, that is what is important. Attempting to compare your wordcount to 175,000+ other users is pointless. There are people writing 300k, 500k, even a million, that while I will cheer them on, I certainly don’t intend to compete with them! One of the MLs in another region managed to make 50k in one day, which is something I don’t think I will ever be able to do. I’m humorously jealous of their wordcount and tease them about it, but just because one ML writes more than I do, doesn’t make me less of an ML or a writer. Some of these people are professional writers, who can crank out 4-5k in an hour (I have a horrid typing speed when writing–just ask Matt). Some are unemployed, don’t have families or children or other time-consuming committments. Comparing yourself to someone who has completely different circumstances to you just doesn’t make sense.

Do these 50k in a day, million word writers have any bearing on my wordcount? No.

Do they mean that I can’t win? NO.

You should be telling yourself this, too.

Nano sets a goal for everyone of 50k. However, to me Nano has always been about the self-challenge of the goals you make for yourself, even if those goals aren’t as high as 50k. There is one girl I knew a few years back who had never written much above 1k every year in Nano. Her goal was simply to write more than she did last year. We all cheered when she managed to beat that goal. You get out of Nano what you put into it–if it helps you meet a 5k, 50k, 500k goal, you win.

While lurking in Ate My Soul and feeling bummed about a “giving up?” thread, I stumbled across this little gem of a post which I really think sums up what Nano is about:

This is my first time doing this and I will consider my participation a success if this experience forces me to sit down every day and write something…anything.

So don’t think about what other people are doing; they aren’t you. Heck, don’t even think about 50k…sit down and have a talk with yourself about what you think is a challenging yet possibly achievable goal FOR YOU. Then put your butt in a chair, put the hands on a keyboard, and do it.

Do that, and you’ve already won.

One Comment:

  1. Thank you for a sweet and simple message that is absolutely the core of Nano. I’m behind this year but the joy of writing everyday is helping me overcome the urge to just throw in the towel. And you know? The more behind I am, the goofier my story gets and the more I smile and write some more. I may just get to 50K this year after all:).

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