To word count or not to word count? A lesson from Camp NaNoWriMo

Now that Camp NaNoWriMo is over, I have a confession to make: I didn’t reach my word count goal. I was not even close. I will not give any numbers because it’s embarrassing. I won’t use excuses such as I had a busy time in my day job (which I had) or that I had to travel (which I really did). These could have been the reasons, but they weren’t. The real reason behind my NaNoWriMo failure was that sitting down to write with a specific word count in mind doesn’t motivate me; on the contrary, it blocks me. I suspect that there are others out there with a similar allergy.

I have to admit that I felt pretty disappointed with myself when I saw my cabin buddies’ word counts sore. But then I realized that before the Camp started, I was doing fine. I wrote on average a thousand words per sitting and never had trouble showing up to write. I never had a specific goal in mind other than to sit down writing that day or to finish a given scene. The trouble began when I started submitting my word count on the Camp website.

So, I decided to accept a gentler approach to success. Flogging myself to achievement won’t produce better writing—on the contrary—but asking my mind nicely to please create will, in the end, bring me faster and with far less pain to where I want to go.

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