As writers and as people, most of us have been told over and over again to push ourselves. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try! Reach for the stars! Writers often set ambitious goals — daily word counts, strict deadlines — to move our writing forward. On one hand, I’ve never agreed with the advice that you absolutely have to write every day. On the other hand, in certain stages of writing, I find it helpful to have a structure that forces me to the page on the regular, like NaNoWriMo or Jami Attenberg’s #1000daysofsummer. The writing may come out great or terrible — most often, a mixture of both — but I’m always glad to have words on the page that weren’t there before, even if they’re not the right words, and I can’t get there by only writing when I feel like it.
But we’re also living through particularly challenging times, with levels of fear and anxiety and anger that seem to rise by the day. In order to make it through, we’re often counseled to take it easy on yourself, lower your standards, acknowledge that you can’t do everything. Everyone’s challenges are different, but we’re all struggling, and in the struggle it’s essential to sort out the necessary from the nice-to-have. Writing can feel indulgent when there are so many matters worthy of our attention, literal issues of life and death playing out across the country and around the world. When you consider that, writing goals can feel frivolous — how could a few more words on the page even matter?
How do we balance these competing forces? Do we? Is the very concept of balance a luxury that got thrown out the window when 2020 came roaring in? [Read more…]