This is the first post I’ve written to link up with my new writing linky – how exciting! Here’s to plenty of time spent in the world of writerly ponderings! Ahhhh I can just feel myself relaxing. It could be the effect of the wine I’m drinking of course… but no, it’s just the thought of sharing some writing-chat with people who know where I’m coming from. Excellent.
So, how has September been for me creative-writing-wise? Well, so far it’s been a bit of a flat month. Having set myself various monthly word count goals since starting my novel in May, it had reached 50,000 words by the end of August. And then? Well, then I ground to a halt. The sum total of my creativity this month has been a poem and a limerick. My novel has progressed by not even a single word.
Of course it’s been with good reason: Yes, it seems that starting a linky to motivate you with your writing, takes up rather a lot of the time you would normally spend writing! But still, the fact that the linky has now launched means I should have more time to write this week, so I’ll be doing just that. In fact I’ll be setting myself a writing challenge before I finish this post. As is usual with my writing style, I have no idea what this challenge will be yet – I’ll just have to see what words form themselves on the tips of my typing fingers.
When I haven’t been linky-launching this week I have been mulling over the issue of word counts and their relationship with quality. I set myself a lot of creative challenges on this blog and many of them are to do with writing a certain number of words. In July I did CampNanoWriMo for the first time and It helped me to write 15,000 words of my novel that month. All along I’ve been using the James Thurber quote above as a bit of a mantra. It’s helped me focus on getting the words out – and thus the writing practice in – without obsessing about getting it perfect. I figure I’m not going to get it ‘right’ at this stage of my writing journey. In fact I suspect that I am never going to get it ‘right’, not to my satisfaction anyway!
But I recently read a post by Victoria who blogs at Coffee. Write. Repeat. about why she doesn’t write every day. Victoria did CampNanoWriMo when I did but felt that, although she achieved her word count goal, a lot of what she wrote wasn’t up to scratch because she was writing the words just for the sake of getting the word count. She felt she’d now have to put a lot of work into re-writing that perhaps she wouldn’t have had to, had she not charged ahead to achieve a numerical target.
And it got me thinking – by pushing myself to write a certain number of words per month am I actually making more work for myself in the future? Obviously, I accept that my novel will need numerous drafts and redrafts however I write it (and however long it takes) but would it need fewer if I just wrote it more slowly? Am I chasing quantity at the cost of quality?
But then, if I don’t set myself a word count target there’s a risk I won’t write any of my book at all. I have three kids one of whom is a baby. I work (albeit in a very part-time manner) I have a social life (of sorts!) I have a house that insists on becoming messy if I don’t attend to it, a fridge of food that refuses to cook itself and a husband who, occasionally, would rather like it if I didn’t have my fingers welded to my keyboard. All in all it’s a pretty packed schedule. If I don’t give myself targets how will I make myself write when I want to sleep or need to attend to all those other (vital) things? Is my love of writing enough to push me on?
Oooh a challenge for the week has now occurred to me! I’m not going to set myself any targets for this week at all. I’m going to tell myself I don’t have to write anything. It doesn’t matter if I don’t write. I can if I like, but if I want to watch the last couple of episodes of season four of Breaking Bad (followed by a hefty chunk of season five) then I can. If I want to write poems or short stories for my blog (for my favourite linkys Prose for Thought and The Prompt) then I can… but I don’t have to. No pressure!
This might not sound like much of a challenge to anyone who doesn’t know me and how I write, but it is – I thrive on having targets to reach and goals to achieve. My first task will be to convince myself there really is no pressure.
I’ll report back next week!