Well, I mean ... I guess technically speaking I am? Because, um ... I hit 50k on Thursday. *sheepish grin* BUT I STILL FEEL LIKE I'M DYING. I had 3k to go on Thursday evening but was severely lacking in motivation for some odd reason, but Katie was amazing and word crawled me to 50k, even though she had a long day and was sleepy. *hugs the lovely Katie*
I was pleasantly going about my day on Friday when I realized I hadn't gotten a post ready. So here's what's left of my coherency XP
Today we're going to talk about a beast that lurks in many places. It hides within NaNo and other group projects, and other projects, period. It's a nasty beastie.
It is ... Comparison.
CONFESSION TIME. Some of you might remember that I switched my nano novel in the beginning of October. I took on a whole new project about dreams. I was so excited, I did my first Beautiful Books post about it.
And then I read two other Beautiful Books posts. You know what their books were about?
Immediately, I felt that warm glow of excitement, the rush of happiness as I plan a new creation, that love and passion for an idea ... I felt all of that fade. Like iron heated over the fire, I had been thrust into the water, and my warmth for The Dream Walkers, my excitement and passion for it fizzled.
Their books are better, a little voice whispered in my ear. Their ideas are cooler. You think this is such a good idea? You're stupid. A goose could write this book better than you. You should just give up now, before you embarrass yourself.
This was stupid. I knew it was stupid. For any book I choose to write, I'm going to find similar ideas out there, or at least stories with similar elements.
That's why comparison is such a dangerous beast. It's so easily accessible. All you have to do is poke in on a writer friend and be like, "Oh heyyy how's nano?" and then they'll say, "Oh, I'm super behind at only 181473298474897562523k words" to which you reply
It's so easy to feel bad about yourself then. Why can't I be at 181473298474897562523k words like so-and-so? UGH I'M SUCH A FAILURE AT WRITING.
That is where I will address my first qualm with comparison.
Qualm #1: everyone has their own pace
I did a post on the woes of word warring a while back, and in it I talked a bit about pace. (not the pace of a story, but the speed at which one writes)
In a really good war, I can crank out 300 words in 5 minutes. That means in a 10 minute war, I will (on occasion - when I'm steaming and words are explosive) crank out 600ish words.
This is my pace.
It's my goal now that I've pinpointed it. Yes, I am capable of writing 300 words in 5 minutes. Yes, I can write 600 words in 10 minutes. That is my pace.
So when I word war someone, I am not aiming to beat them.
I'm aiming to beat myself.
And that perspective needs to be zoomed out to encompass all of NaNoWriMo. For some, it is possible for them to crank out 20k in a day. *pointedly looks at a few particular people* Some people can finish NaNo in THREE STINKIN' DAYS. Heck, Katie did hers in 10 (i know, she's a boss).
These people are all different. They all have their own paces, their own processes, and their own styles. Just because someone can crank out 20k in a day doesn't mean I'm a failure for not being able to do the same.
It doesn't work like that.
300 words in 5 minutes.
That's my pace.
That's MY pace.
It's not yours. You need to find your pace. And if you have a slow war, you can tell yourself, "I know I can write faster." Not, "So and so can write faster. Why can't I be like them?"
That's just not a fair outlook. We are all amazing, unique, talented people. Embrace your pace. Embrace your process and style.
Embrace yourself, for you are unique and special. No one can tell your story like you can, and no one can write quite like you. Take pride in that. Don't let yourself get down because of your differences.
(can you tell i'm passionate about this? sorry to rant.
Qualm #2: everyone has their own ideas and ways of taking them
But something happens when you do that. You lose ... just about everything that makes the book yours. So if you walk around thinking, "I'm writing a book about dreams and it's going to be the best thing ever!!!" that might not be the smartest mindset.
Think about your best friend. What do you love about them? I love my best friend's laugh, and her smile, and her corny jokes that are just so bad I can't help but double over laughing till I can't breathe and my face is red and tears are streaming.
Now imagine what would happen if we all walked around looking at people and seeing their skeletons. Just the bones that support and hold them together.
They're all basically the same, right?
There are no more unique people, with pretty laughs and smiles. That's all gone. It's just bone.
Treat your stories like people. See the story for what it really is - and when you catch yourself comparing your story with someone else's, zoom out. Look at the whole novel. Is probably won't be a similar as you think.
Qualm #3: everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses
My cousin is a boss.
(just thought you ought to know)
I'll have to tell you all the full story sometime of how I became a writer, but my cousin played an integral role in that.
But today is confession day. And I'm here to say that ... I've always been a little jealous of my cousin.
She has such an amazing brain. Her ideas - just ... WOW. So many, so creative, so all over the place. They come so effortlessly to her (or seemingly so).
And like, this girl ... you should see her work at characters. She has page after page after page of backstory on her characters. And not just the main ones. If I asked her who her MC's cousin's best childhood friend was, she would be able to look at me and tell me a summary of this person's life, including major events that shaped them into the person they are today. It doesn't even matter to her if they're in the story or not. Legit. Like, I am not exaggerating. It's crazy.
My brain doesn't work like that. I don't understand how she can do it, and I used to get really down about it. Like, can't I be awesome like that too, please?
But that's not how I work. I come up with the character backstory I really need and don't go much further. (except for in world building - hehehe) and that works for me. Backstory is one of her greatest writing strengths. World building is mine.
We are different.
And that is okay. It is nothing to feel down about, or ashamed of.
Take a closer look before you say something is "better" or "worse". Think more of differences and the beauty we have in being unique. Reevaluate how you think when you look at someone's blurb or snippet or word count. Don't think why can't I be like them? But try to appreciate them for who they are, and show that same courtesy to yourself.
NaNo is a giant, world wide effort. It's really easy to fall into the trap of comparing. You're writing alongside thousands of other writers! Of course it's going to be difficult not to look over their shoulders and see their word count and their snippet that looks so beautiful and say, WHY CAN'T I WRITE LIKE THAT?
But please don't. Don't see differences as being better or worse. Just look at them as differences. It will make the world a much more beautiful place.
How goes nano for you all (if you're doing it)? Do you struggle with comparing?