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Numbers, Numbers, Everywhere! And Not A Number For Me!

 Numbers are everywhere.

House numbers. Phone numbers. Speed limits. Money. Pricing. Quantity. Time. Length. Height. Weight.  Sports scores. Statistics. Distance.

Some numbers are good. Like the years you’ve been married, or the date your child was born.

Some numbers are bad. Like your weight, your Cholesterol levels, groceries, gas, and even the price of that house, or car, you want but know it’s not practical.

For me, after eight and a half months of writing, nearly every day, I’ve managed 40,000+ words. Despite being so proud of myself for not giving up, I’ve come to a conclusion:

Numbers depress me.

I can get obsessed over numbers. Numbers are everywhere. And when everyone’s talking about their numbers, I have got to be out there making my own.

My Bungie Emblem

I noticed this when I play any of my xBox games. I have to get ALL THE achievements. (I’ve since learned I get all the ones I CAN get, because, let’s face it, I suck at multiplayer. Heck, my emblem is a bulls-eye on Halo! At least I acknowledge it and have fun with it, right?!)

100% syncBut then there are games like the Assassins Creed series. I. Must. Get. ALL. The. Achievements. And not just all the achievements, but I must get 100% on all the missions (which there’s an achievement for that, too).  I will obsess over each mission, stress myself out, and sometimes even give myself a panic attack. Then, they threw in their own multiplayer a couple of games ago. And, unfortunately, I suck at the at that as well. (I can’t put a big ol’ bullseye on my hoodie now can I?! What kind of assassin would I be?) Not so much suck, really, more like I seriously can only play one or two matches before my heart is racing, my hands as sweating, and my breathing is shallow and fast and I’m starving for air. A serious panic attack ensues. So, I’ve resolved myself to not playing the multiplayer. I am hoping one day Ubisoft will come out with a co-op multiplayer (And I think there will be in Assassins Creed III, so can’t wait!).

Then there’s the blog. Ever since I started it, I’ve obsessively checked my stats pages. (It’s probably similar to those of you who’ve self-published checking your downloads and sales numbers.) Has anyone read what I wrote? How many? How many comments? None! WHAT?? Seriously. Ugh! I suck!

And now, there’s the numbers of writing…

Not only are their unending numbers in my gaming life, real life, blog life, now I’m faced with unending numbers in my writing life.

There’s the average word count for flash fiction, short stories, and novels. Then there’s average word count for a middle grade, young adult, or adult novel. There’s also average word counts for an epic fantasy or a romance novel.

There are days I’m left to wonder if I’ll have enough words to even FILL a novel! I’m never wondering, or fretting, over the number of words I’ll cut (that’s another number in case you didn’t know!)

Everyone goes on writing sprints, write or die, word wars. And then there’s NaNoWriMo. Oh My Gaw! Seriously? How could you write a novel in a month? 50,000 words in 30 days? 1667 words per day? 5 ½ pages per day? (See, more numbers!) And then you could break it down even further! You could go the part-time route, 4 days writing/3 days off. That’ll be 3,125 words per day, or 10 ½ pages a day. Or if you are really masochistic, only write on the weekends! That’s 6,250 words a day, or 21 pages a day.

People do it all the time. People pledge to write 1,000 words a day, everyday! People pledge to write 1,000 words in an hour!

I’m not people.

I always seem to fail pale in comparison.

When I started following all these writers on Twitter, I actually thought it would help me. I thought it would motivate me. Get my word count up. You know?!

But, it just brought me

It hindered my writing. My word count. My inspiration and motivation.

Then I found the #writemotivation group on Twitter. They rooted for me, cheered me on, and flung flaming stripper robot zombie dino cookies at me. They cheered for my measly 100 words in a single day. They didn’t judge me or compare me to anyone else. They commend me for my progress, no matter how small. (Pssst…Join in on Twitter, whenever! And you can still sign up for the goal check over on KTHanna’s site! Do it! DO IT NOW! You won’t regret it!)

Progress is progress. And that’s always good.

Inside, though, I still think, “Why can’t I write this out? Why can’t I get all those word counts up? Everyone else can do it! Why can’t I?” And then I get disappointed in myself. I start wondering if I really am cut out for this. Can I really write a novel? Can I really do this?

I know I’ve said before that surrounding yourself with positive helps feed the positive, but it truly is THE HARDEST THING to do. It’s easy being miserable. It’s easy being depressed. You have to WANT to be positive more than you want to wallow.

I get in the “I suck mood” more often than not. It takes a lot of energy to bring myself up. But you know what? I write through the negativity anyway. It may be a single sentence, or it may be only 100 words. But I write through it until I get back up, and then I write back down. Up, down. I have continued to write. It may not be every day, like I intended at the beginning of this year, but I write. And I do “writer-ly” things every day. (Reading is considered writer-ly, right?!)

I am constantly trying to remind myself of my Golden Rule for First Drafts that I came up with at the start of #WriteMotivation

My Golden Rule On Writing First Drafts

Daily, sometimes hourly, I have to remind myself this. One word is progression! But why when I say it to myself, it doesn’t sound as nice as when someone reminds me of my own advice??

Now that I think about it, I would have to say the deeper revelation would be:

Comparisons depress me.



  1. Ping from Finding The Elusive Positives, #NANOWRIMO & #WriteMotivation « WriteBackwards:

    […] I’ve signed up for NANOWRIMO for the 3rd year in a row. The first year, I thought I could do it. Then I stared and stared at the blank page, and the numbers not growing. It stopped up my creative pipe. Not really my cup of tea. So I failed that year. The 2nd year, I thought, ok…let’s try it again and don’t focus on the words. Just write. Still didn’t win. I came to the conclusion that counting was not for me, even wrote a blog post about it. […]

  2. Ping from September #WriteMotivation Update #2 & Asking for a little help « WriteBackwards:

    […] progress. No numbers. Those are not allowed in my world! I’ve decided. Please see my previous blog post regarding the reasons why! It really is freedom for me and I’m so happy to share with all of […]

  3. Ping from September #WriteMotivation Update 1 « WriteBackwards:

    […] progress. No numbers. Those are not allowed in my world! I’ve decided. Please see my previous blog post regarding the reasons why! It really is freedom for me and I’m so happy to share with all of […]

  4. Ping from I’m in the Running….just not the counting! :) « WriteBackwards:

    […] Word Race. I was skeptical because all these things usually mean, numbers. And if you’ve read my post on numbers, well then you’d know that I HATE NUMBERS! And the feeling is very […]

  5. Ping from September #WriteMotivation — Annnnd Go! « WriteBackwards:

    […] Forward progress. No numbers. Those are not allowed in my world! I’ve decided. Please see my previous blog post regarding the reasons why! It really is freedom for me and I’m so happy to share with all of […]

  6. Ping from jocelynrish:

    I totally know what you mean. Whenever I start checking my word count progress, I know I’m not fully invested in the scene, and the writing becomes more like a chore than a fun outlet. The best sessions are when my fingers are flying and I come out of head to see the word count has magically soared.

    Wishing you a very productive #writemotivation month,

  7. Ping from Madeline Barr (@MadelineBarr):

    Great post and you’re not alone.

    For the record, your post was 1,056 words and this is your 9th comment. 😉

    There’s the great saying – “Everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.”

    Hang in there!

  8. Ping from Viklit:

    One word IS Progress and comparisons only ever drive us mad I say. This is motivational, this post, we will stop the comparisons and free ourselves of word count stress!

  9. Ping from ÆMarling (@AEMarling):

    It’s not the words you write per day. It’s the words that you could’ve written but didn’t because you have restraint and purpose that make you a writer. I’d recommend not keeping track of the words you write per unit of time, except insofar as you need to see how long a section is to plan chapter breaks.

  10. Ping from MAJK:

    Yes, you are very right – I have missed the positive energy of the #writemotivation crowd while out. Great motivational post – I need to print this and pin it to my BB in my office for those days when I am in the “the world sucks mood” 🙂

    On the day you finish – I am driving up there and taking you out to dinner – my treat – deal?


  11. Ping from abigailkern:

    So glad you said that, because I feel exactly the same way. When I don’t get very many words down, I tend to feel awfully depressed. But I try to remind myself that all progress is still progress. 🙂 A quote to live your life by: The less you give a damn, the happier you will be. 🙂

  12. Ping from Angela Brown:

    Numbers really are everywhere! But it sounds like you’ve been doing so much better than you give yourself credit for. #writemotivation will continue to be a great source of cheers, pom poms and cookies. And you will reach your goals by remembering you can only do what you can do – which is darn good – and achieve your desired success.

  13. Ping from Cheyenne Campbell:

    Numbers are all about comparing. They put data into the easiest form to compare. I’ve never gotten along with numbers, ever since 4th grade when I was sent to the chalkboard to work out a long division problem, and stood there, totally unsure, and started bawling in front of the entire class. That cemented my dislike.

    You and I are NOT numbers, nor are we simply the sum of our weight, our word count, and our calorie count. And as they say, comparison is the thief of joy. Well, one of them. As Andrew said, you’re such a motivation to everyone else around you. Everyone comes from different starting points, with different strengths and weaknesses. And you will finish this! Sometimes those ideas need awhile to stew before they can come out in the best possible way 🙂 **hugs** Thanks for always being such a motivator to me!

  14. Ping from Leigh Caroline:

    *hugs* I understand. Even though I CAN sometimes write fast, I’ve found I’m not happy with the results when I do. It’s not really useful to be able to churn out a novel in a month if you then have to spend another 3 months editing it, another 6 months rewriting it because it sucks so badly. I actually benefit from going slower, and doing it right the first time.

  15. Ping from M. Andrew Patterson (@DyadicEchoes):

    *hugs* We’re all here for you, Jai. 😀 You are an awesome person and have really helped motivate me. This such a motivational post. I’ve been been a little down on myself lately because I’ve been struggling lately. So thank you. I love your motivation picture that you did at the end of this post.

    Thank you.

    P.S. You’ll finish. Zen teaches that you should never be in a hurry as you will always reach your destination in the end.

    Keep going, Jai. You’ll get where you need to be in the end. And stop stressing over the numbers! They’re stupid!

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