How many words does it take . . .

. . . to keep me from feeling guilty? I used to be happy with 2000 a day. It was a tough goal to fit in among the detritus of my daily life: laundry, cooking, exercise. Now, though, I find I’m not really satisfied unless I can write 5000 words a day. That’s ridiculous. I mean, it takes hours. It’s around 18 pages. But see, I know there are crazy genius writers out there who write more than that each day and even though I don’t know them I know they exist. And I’m competitive. I’m driven. This is why I don’t play sports or participate in bicycle races. I will kill myself to win.

I didn’t always write novels, so this whole must write now now now thing I’ve got going on in my head was easier to control. I can write a poem in one day. Sort of. It may be drivel, but it’s a whole poem, totally self-contained. The entire manuscript might take several years to complete, but each poem is like a tiny burst of ego that satisfied my urge to finish. It felt like biting into a hard candy and chewing it to death until the sweetness was perfectly consumed.

Writing an entire book is more like running a marathon that takes over a month. I hate pacing myself and I also hate not finishing things so the entire process consists of me forcing myself to sit down and write, then forcing myself to stop. I’m now working on my third novel and this sense of competition with the number of words I’ve written in a day hasn’t let up at all. In fact, I think it’s getting worse. The candy will not crack, it just sits there in the mouth, day after day after day.

And see? Now I’m mixing my metaphors in the most horrible fashion. I have come to the conclusion that if other writers are like this, well, we’re all insane. Seriously.

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