Last week, I had five days of intense family stuff that meant I wasn’t writing, so for the last three days I have been pounding out the word count, trying to get caught back up on my Nano novel. But today it’s going slowly, the characters feel off, I’m realizing how much of my novel is just long passages of dialogue with no action or description, and stopping to revise my outline actually lost me 150 words. Which would be no big deal if I was caught up, but when I’m behind, it makes me feel depressed and resentful of the necessary work of making things better. This isn’t working.
This is where I’m grateful that both my parents are writers: I had a long talk with my mom, and she said that pounding out the word count when the characters aren’t sounding or acting right, and where I’m not happy with the quality of the storytelling, means no one else will be invested in my characters or story either. She asked me what my real goal was, and I realized that it’s to complete a novel that I’m pleased with. I had convinced myself that doing a strict word count was the only way to finish a novel, but if pounding out crap convinces me that I’m a terrible writer and that I should just quit, I could complete the Nano but quit writing.
So here’s what I’m doing: I’m going to set aside the block of time from 8-10 every night for writing. Quality matters more than quantity, so it doesn’t matter whether I write a ton or squeeze out just a couple of sentences. What matters is applying butt to chair and feeling like I’m doing my best work. I may finish Nano on time. I probably won’t. But hopefully I’ll end up with a finished novel I actually want to show people.