Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Writer's Life: Running Your Race (Sarah)
In writing circles, I witness frequent discussions on writing speed, daily word count, and the number of books written and released per year. In fact, a few days ago I heard someone who published four books a year call her pace slow…if she is slow, I suppose I’m glacial.
In actuality, I can draft at a decent rate, turning out 1500-2000 words an hour, but I have a relatively minimal amount of time to write, and I also tend to proceed slowly in the editing phase, wanting to layer in detail and nuance and polish words until they shine. Of course, it’s likely that my pace and process will continue to evolve through the years, and I generally find I get faster the more books I write, but that’s where I am now.
And I’ve had to continually remind myself not to compare to other writers. There’s no inherent virtue in cranking out a book a month (nor conversely, to taking a year or ten to write one novel). It’s about cultivating excellence in craft and creativity in your work and finding the pace and methods that fit you as a writer and your particular season of life.
No two people are alike. Our personalities and life circumstances are unique. We each have responsibilities, values, and challenges that shape how we live our lives. It doesn’t mean we can’t learn, grow, and become more effective in how we carry out our responsibilities and pursue our dreams and desires, but we’re working from different starting points and even with different creative or career goals in mind.
Right now, I’m in the season of young children (ranging from 20 months to 6 years). While sometimes stories press upon me, demanding release, and I dream of long blocks of focused time to birth them onto the page, in reality, I wouldn’t trade this season with my kids for anything. I’m thankful that I get to pour my time and energy into them by homeschooling and sharing everyday life with them. If I chose another path, such as sending them to school, I would have more time to write—but this is the choice that’s right for me and my family. That means I simply focus on carving out time to write as consistently as I can, working it into the fabric of our family's schedule—and not comparing my output to someone who writes for four, eight, or twelve hours a day.
I love the Scripture that says “and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” I’ve found when I do that, I’m not distracted by comparison and can be more joyful and productive. I can learn and glean from others, from their methods along with their successes and failures, but I keep my focus on running the race set before me—not someone else’s race.
What about you? Do you struggle with comparison? If you write, what is your natural writing pace? Has it changed with the changing seasons of life?