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Here I sit the night before the deadline I set for myself. 100,000 words before May 17th. That was the goal.

How did I do?

It depends on how you look at it. 

If you go purely by the numbers, it was an abject failure. I’m 8,507 words short, and based on the amount of time I expect to have for writing tomorrow there is no way I will make it.  I should just hang up my gloves and give up the struggle to finish my first novel. There’s no point.

I’ve failed.

Or I could look at things from another perspective and see a different picture. When I set the goal on April 18th, I had been ‘working’ on The Novel for just over five months and averaged about 650 words per day over that period. 

In the past month I’ve put down 50% of the words I’d written in the previous five. It’s like I’ve done 2 1/2 months worth of work in just under one.  That doesn’t suck.  In 29 calendar days (that includes the days I didn’t write) my average increased to 1023 (+57%!) words per day.  That doesn’t entirely suck either. And I’m in the home stretch, at least for getting to 100k.

I’m almost there.

Why should I be happy, if I’ve missed my goal? Why celebrate when I’ve revealed the shame of my failure to the world?

Because I’ve found a way to instill some discipline in myself to write.  I’m a lot closer now to a ‘professional’ regimen than I was before. I’m still not a seven-day-a-week writer. I may never be, but I’m a solid five-or-six-day-a-week writer now.  Even on those days that I didn’t think anything would come, I put my butt in the chair and the words came. Sometimes it was like pulling teeth, but they came.

The difference shows in the quantity I’ve produced in the last month as compared to the five that came before. Anyone who’s done any research on the interwebz for ‘advice for writers’ I’m sure has run into the ‘write every day’ advice. I’m here to tell you that if you are going to make a serious run at being a writer, that is the best thing you can do. If you write every day you’ll get there eventually. If you don’t, you’ll be another one of those people that talk but never do.

It’s easier to keep your story straight in your head and you maintain momentum. Your brain is constantly churning, creating solutions to the problem you ran into yesterday while it’s still fresh in your mind. And on and on and on. The benefits of writing daily are endless.

If you are going to write, write. That is the great nugget of wisdom I’ve learned from this little exercise.

Now go work on whatever it is you were working on. The Muse is calling.