Word Count Versus Creative Writing

I believe writing is an art form, not a race. And yet, I read dozens of posts wherein authors agonize in being unable to write 5,000 words every day.
I used to track my word count thinking I should step in line with what I saw other authors doing. I’m less inclined now to meticulously track my progress. If I complete only one paragraph in a week, and that paragraph is sensational, I’m thrilled.
Writing is a process of creation. It comes from within. The author needs to allow the thinking part of the brain, the part that’s concerned about books sales and ratings, to surrender to the part of the brain that is the authority on creativity. When the author surrenders the ego, magic happens.
We live in a fast paced world, packed full of sensory stimulation. Mix in the stress of producing a set amount of words for your novel every day and you have a recipe for mental burnout and emotional meltdown. Abuse of the human body and mind has consequences ranging from mild insomnia to chronic or fatal diseases.
There is more to life than writing. Priorities may need to be adjusted. There is no sin shelving the writing project for a week, a month, a year. That decision may be uncomfortable for some. Perhaps the author fears he/she will interrupt the flow of inspiration and that will be permanently lost. Perhaps a publisher is placing pressure on the author to complete the sequel. Perhaps the ego created an illusion that any author worthy of fame produces a book a month.
I’m often asked about my writing style, when do I write, what is my writing cave like. The truth is that the amount of time I spend each day at the keyboard is very little, if any. However, I am writing the novel constantly in my head. If I’m walking my dog, preparing a meal for my family, watering the garden, or buying groceries, the creative process is always in gear.
When do I finally sit down to write? Once I see the scene crystal clear in my mind, and all the action and dialogue remains constant, never varying with each mental rerun, then I’ll hit keyboard. At that point, the story unfolds with brilliant inspiration. The disembodied narrator (who has taken up residence on my left shoulder) returns to dictate plot twists and character development. With the discovery of a new twist, I stop writing until I’ve again considered it from all angles, plotted out possible scenarios, and determined the characters’ responses.
Now I know there are authors who have their novel’s story plotted out before writing the first paragraph. I tried that only once. It wasn’t for me. I enjoy unexpected twists, discovering subplots. In predetermining the story’s flow, I might have ignored those tempting invitations to consider something new. The bonus for developing an outline to your story and remaining committed to that plan is that you theoretically could write faster.
Sit down to write because you love to write. Write because the inspiration is so strong you can’t sleep. Write because it feels so good to express feelings that would otherwise remain undiscovered. Write to feel the joy of creating something that never existed before. But don’t write because you think you should.
Worrying about word count is counter to the creative process. It’s like two people falling in love wondering how fast they can make it to the altar. It will kill the relationship, not to mention destroy all the fun in learning about each other. Take your time. Enjoy the journey.

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