Take it one word at a time

I was on a critiquing site the other day and on the front page they had a random quote. It really hit home.

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day's work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.
- John Steinbeck


When starting a new project, it feels like such a daunting task. How are we ever going to write 80k + words? How will we develop characters that readers will fall in love with (or hate if it's a bad guy)? How will we craft new worlds, romances, and dangerous situations?

When thinking about all of this, it's enough to make a person run screaming from their laptop.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

The end goal, the target word count, that's not what we should focus on. Part of the magic in writing is not just the journey of our characters; it is the journey we as writers take along with our characters. Being the first to see the story unfold as it leaves your imagination and takes form in words is a wonderful thing. It should be treasured; so take it as slowly as you need too. Enjoy the worlds you create and the characters that inhabit them.

If you are a goal oriented person who has to think in numbers and daily targets, then focus on small writing goals instead of the big picture. This will help relieve the pressure that the larger word goals create. Take it one word at a time, and before you know it, the story will be there, finished and ready to share with others who will enjoy it too.

Comments

Litgirl01 said…
Put one foot in front of the other! Take it one day at a time. Exactly right! ;-)
B.J. Anderson said…
Great post and on that I totally agree with. I can't look at end word counts because it just messes with my mind, lol. I'm a one page at a time kind of gal.
Jessica said…
This is a good reminder for me, because sometimes I do lose the joy of writing and I'll keep checking my word count until I hit 1000. LOL!
Great quote!
Danyelle said…
Amen! Small attainable goals that also make you stretch. And, as you point out, it's important not to forget the joy's in the journey. :D
T. Anne said…
I started a new WIP and once I hit 10K words I felt the same way, how will this story ever stretch that far etc.. Then I have to remind myself it's one scene at a time. Throw in more problems at my MC. Foreshadow big events only I am privy to etc...
Lady Glamis said…
Oh, great post! It really is about small steps. Rome was not built in a day. :)
Brittany Tucker said…
"Part of the magic in writing is not just the journey of our characters; it is the journey we as writers take along with our characters."

I agree, isn't that so true!
Jody Hedlund said…
Great quote! Sometimes the work does seem overwhelming! But taking it one step at a time definitely makes it look less daunting!
Philip S said…
A page at a time, a chapter at a time. That's how it's done (although you may need a roadmap to know where you're going). If you don't enjoy the slow accretion that writing a novel entails, then stick to short stories. With those, the end is never very far out of sight!