I was flipping through some posts on Literary Rambles today and came across a post from a couple weeks ago: Tip Tuesday # 47. The author suggested that instead of being overwhelmed by how much more we have to write to finish our first drafts, we should instead think of the word count as a 401k. While you don’t have enough to retire on today, you are building towards it.
Aiming For a 1st Down
This tip made me think of another analogy. Now bear with me for a moment as I include a disclaimer. I went to a southern college with a big SEC football team (UGA). I am about to use a football analogy. I remember the first game I went to. One of my fellow classmates was painstakingly explaining the rules to me. At one point early on in the game, I asked my friend, “Why is everyone cheering? We only gained 7 yards. We still have 60+ yards to go to get a touchdown.” He then explained that it’s not the big picture you have to concern yourself with. Every 10 yards equals another shot for a big play. You make it 10 yards, you get to have another go. It’s the little goals, the small accomplishments that you cheer for, because these small accomplishments will ultimately lead to the final goal, or, in this analogy, touchdown.
When I write, I try not to think about the final word count. Instead, I aim for something doable. Usually that’s 600 words a day. Reaching my goal, I celebrate. Anything more than that, I do a little happy dance. It’s like making extra yardage in football – instead of going 10 yards on the play, I’ve gone 15. For each chapter I complete, I do a big happy dance (not a pretty sight, I can assure you). As writers, we have to be our own cheerleaders because only a writer truly understands the work it takes to write one sentence, let alone an entire book.