November is a big month for NaNoWriMo. I definitely see how writing X number of words a day to complete a novel by the end of the month can inspire people. I can also see how motivating it can be. As for me, it adds to my anxiety.
I put so much pressure on myself already, the thought of making goals I can't achieve really brings me down. I can't write without going back and seeing how things fit. I need the freedom to revise along the way if I have to. Usually, I write about 50 pages. Then, I go back and add details, fix what's not working, write another 50, rinse and repeat. If I didn't do this and just kept going, the result would be one huge mess. It's so much harder to revise a 200+ mess than a 50 page mess.
One year, though, a friend asked me to do NaNo with her. I figured if I had a partner, I could be productive. I started off writing over 1k words a day, then the word count slowly dwindled. At first, I got upset with myself. Then, I realized something. I was STILL writing every day. Every day! Who cared if it was only 500 words? At least I was writing! That experience taught me to not be so hard on myself and to focus on the bigger picture. Many days of zero words adds up to zero. But writing, even a little each day, adds up to real word counts.
I guess it's fitting that this post appears on Thanksgiving. Too often, we take stock of what's not working or where we aren't. I'm guilty of this too much. I feel like I'm always chasing what others have in the writing world. I don't stop and think about what I accomplished. A few months ago, I was talking to an old friend from high school about how I wished my writing career was elsewhere. And she said, "But you published two books. You're working on other projects. That's amazing." And I told her that I wanted the books to be doing better, to have more projects. She looked at me and said, "But don't you see? To us, you're like a princess. You had this dream and you did it."
I think about my friend's words a lot when I'm having that you're-not-good-enough-feeling. We just have to all keep going. Nothing wrong with striving for more. Heck, that's the way to make it happen. But we also have to give ourselves credit for how far we've come. To remind ourselves that years ago we would have walked miles in 6 inch stilettos to get to where we are now. To let ourselves be that princess. Even for a day.