Ever since I started this writing journey, I’ve become obsessed with numbers. How many words per day? Pages? Chapters? Words per chapters? Age I should be when publishing a book?
It’s an endless cycle of attempting to compare myself to the norm and feel comfortable. Sure, I should know the suggested word count of my genre and targeted demographic, but that doesn’t mean I have to fastidiously fit into those parameters. 25 isn’t the magic age for being “successful”. And a chapter needs to be long enough to achieve it’s goal.
Despite constantly ignoring numbers and suffocating their importance, I find myself in a place I never though I’d reach.
For the first time since college, I am on the other side of 180 pounds. That number used to freak me the hell out. It was the scary clown cackling at the end of a haunted house, the drop in your belly when you miss the last stair in the dark. Now that I’m here, standing on the other side means something more than a number. I’m energetic. I nourish my body with healthy food. My emotions do not control my eating. My time is spent focused on tasks that enrich my life.
Honestly, I don’t worry about eating a slice of chocolate chip banana nut bread slathered in peanut butter because my wonderful husband made it, and I know the ingredients in it. More importantly, my mind has changed. I don’t need that bread for some silly craving. I’ve budgeted it in my calories and I’ll exercise later that day because that’s who I am now.
And the biggest news of all is that I’m writing these words knowing I just finished my second novel. It’s a rough draft of 95k garbage words, but it’s mine and I did it. I built the world, met the characters, outlined the plot, and then sat down almost every day to hammer it out. I wasn’t sure if I would feel proud, but I do. It might sit on my computer forever, but I wrote it. I made a story I wanted to read and I’m going to revise it, edit it, CPit, and query it.
I’m about to be 28 and I’m really excited to say that I don’t feel like it. I feel wild, unstoppable, fulfilled, and a little bit neurotic. But I think that’s the whole point. We oscillate between the things we know– average weights, average ages for success, average word counts– and we try and fall where we should. That’s the neurotic part. The wild, unstoppable, and fulfilled part comes when you see something you want, and you do it. No excuses. No procrastination.
You earn it.
Set your goal, but PLEASE don’t make it a number. You are so much more than that. You are wild fire and ambition. You are smiles and nerdiness. You are rolling down a summer hill or hiking for days. You are Disney trivia and game design.
There aren’t 180 or 95,000 of you.