Umm…no. I didn’t. Lots of times on Facebook and Twitter, I’ll see posts from authors who crow about how many words they wrote that day. And I’m happy for them. Really. I’m just not one of them. I never will be. Know why? Because my writing routine is very different.
I know writers get tons of advice about just putting dreck on the page and then going back to edit later. If that works for you, and you’re happy to finish a first draft with 200,000 words of dreck that will eventually be cleaned and polished to a 50,000 word manuscript, good for you. Everyone has to find their own process.
Personally, I can’t put dreck on a page and boast about it. I can’t move forward until what I’ve written previously is the best that I can make it. I’ve been known to stall on a chapter for days because one word or sentence is wrong, and I can’t continue the story until I figure out what word or phrase needs to be replaced.
But wait! There’s more. I don’t plot or outline first, either. (Egads. Hide the women and children!) I don’t want to know how my characters are going to get out of that quicksand until I need to pull them out. If I know the answers to all my questions too soon, I get bored, rush to finish the story, and wind up with an unsatisfactory ending. I can’t help it. I can’t keep a secret. Not from my family when it comes to their Christmas gifts, not from my readers when it comes to the Happily-Ever-Afters.
I don’t apologize for not writing 10,000 words in a day because that’s not my process. Here’s a typical writing stint for me:
I write a scene, mostly dialogue. Then I go in and layer that scene. I fix punctuation and spelling errors, double-check my research, add color and scenery and stage direction. Then I do it again, tweaking word choices, tightening my tendency to be too verbose, adding the pertinent info I’ve overlooked. And then, when I think that scene could go into a published work exactly as written, I’m ready to move onto the next scene and do it all over again.
With a process like this, it’s no wonder I’m thrilled if I write 500 words in a day. The difference between me and the Dreck Writer who writes 10,000 words a day is, when I type The End, it really is The End. I can rest assured that the book needs one quick read-through to focus on story arc and continuity, and that baby is ready to fly. While my counterpart is stuck in revision hell, trying to decide if (s)he really needs to mention the curtains were green right before the house goes up in flames or if (s)he should cut the whole scene because (s)he’s gotta kill a few darlings to meet that word count.
I refuse to feel inadequate because someone’s boasting about writing 10,000 words today, when I’ve stared at the same sentence for a week trying to decide whether to use “cerulean” or “blue.” It’s part of who I am as a writer. And who I am as a writer likes writing the perfect words while having no idea where my characters are going whenever I sit down at that keyboard. Even if I never get to boast that I wrote ten thousand words in one day.