Numerical values are what we often use to determine success. For business, it's how much money one makes or how many units of a product are sold. It may also be how many impressions we might have on social media or how many unique visitors to our webpages (like this one).
Writers, when we are actually writing use the time and the looming wordcount at the bottom of our document to measure the successful use of our writing sessions. However, this has never worked for me. It only ever resulted in my beating myself up for not producing the amount of work that I thought my peers were accomplishing in a similar timeframe. I ended up creating more stress and anxiety than I did words on the page, and at the end of my writing session, I felt a sense of failure as opposed to contentment stemming from participating in a most-beloved pastime. It took me several years longer than I care to admit to finally ask myself, "If I'm not even enjoying the creative process, then what is the point of me writing at all?"
I needed to lessen the self-imposed burden I'd set upon my own shoulders, secured by the presumptuous facets of traditional university literary programs. (But that is a blog post in and of itself.) I began writing longhand again, where there was no wordcount looming at the bottom of my document or the threat of the clock blinking from my computer's taskbar. Fortunately, with today's technology, I am able to convert my handwriting into text, albeit with varied results, thus streamlining the process some when bouncing between mediums in a single project. Of course, any writer or anyone who has ever taken a typing class, can attest that it is much faster to type than it is to write with pen and paper (or stylus and tablet). It is simply more economical to type directly into a word processing program. For me, my brain is coming up with words much faster than my hands can complete a set of strokes for a single letter. (Or maybe that's just my ADHD talking.)
My solution was this: when typing on a computer, I hide the taskbar. If you're a tad tech-savvy, you can turn off the clock in your taskbar settings instead. I do both. If the word processor I'm using has a wordcount somewhere visible on the screen, I hide that, too. No numerical values. No measurements. No stress.
Without the means to compare my perceived success or lack thereof, I find myself at peace while I write, getting as lost in writing a book as I do while reading one. And most importantly, I find myself falling in love with my work and the writing art all over again, leaving each session feeling enriched and better for having the experience.
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