Word Count Shaming {Numbers Don't Matter!}

by - April 27, 2015

Word Count Shaming {Numbers Don't Matter!} by Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect

I'm quite sure it's not intentional - the stab that slices at my self worth when I see those numbers posted. 

Good for you that your manuscript is weighing down the world with 179,693 words while mine hovers on the lowly precipice of barely breaking 60,000.

You should be proud.  I would be too.

But you also make me feel ashamed.  And that is stupid.

You're not stupid.  I'm being stupid.

I've got this kind of jealousy that makes me want to throw in the towel because 'you're better than me'.

But you're not.  We're just different.

I have placed myself in this virtual community of writers - twitter and instagram and all the other look-at-me-and-the-great-things-I'm-doing places - communities that help all the introverts feel like rock stars.  I've put myself there.  

It's powerful to be noticed, to be heard, to be recognized as worthy.

And it's so very inspiring to follow along with others on their writing journey just as they are following mine.

It's completely empowering IF I can remember that a person's story goes well beyond their story. 

I mean, I am more than the novel I am writing.  I have a life beyond my keyboard that is rich with living.  I have responsibilities and obligations and loves and hates beyond the written word. 

Monsieur 179,693 writes full time.  Full time!

Life has not afforded me the luxury of writing all day - every word I manage to get down comes from a moment stolen away from my children and my husband and my job and my home and at least a million other things.

So perhaps, after putting that in perspective, I should wear my 60,000 proudly and not judge myself based on what others are doing.

And perhaps I can turn my jealously away from word counts and focus it on all those lucky people who get to spend their whole day doing exactly what they love to do and hope that someday I'll be brave enough to do that too.

My worth as a writer is not determined by the number of pages I turn out each day; it is, instead, determined by the heart my toils may touch - be that tomorrow or twenty years from now - this is what defines my worth.

"My worth as a writer is not determinded by the number of pages I turn out each day; it is, instead, determined by the hearts my toils touch - be that tomorrow or twenty years from now - this is what defines my worth" - Alanna Rusnak

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  1. It's true that comparison is the thief of joy! Comparing is super common in all realms of creativity I think and it's absolutely toxic. We can strive to imitate certain attributes or take inspiration from other creatives but when their work is very similar to our own it can be difficult to separate what they are from what we are. I had to go on a massive unfollow binge on Instagram from a ton of wedding photographers because I felt incomprehensibly untalented by their comparison. But when I finally asked myself, "What kind of photographer would I be if I wasn't trying to be someone else?", I really found a freedom. Part of the reason I love design so much is I really don't follow any one person too closely, so I have the freedom to do what I want without so much of the obligation to feel like I need to reach a certain level to 'be' someone. ANYWAYS, long comment, but all just to say; I feel ya. I've been there. It sucks. But I'm glad that you are already ahead of yourself enough to know that you are your own writer and each word you write has value. A good photographer worded it like "[in regards to Instagram] We're viewing someone else's highlight reel while we are living our own behind the scenes". I found that super powerful!

    1. A brilliant piece of advice - the highlight reel bit - that should pop up every time we open something like Instagram! It's hard not to compare but so important to support one another - I just need to constantly remind myself: highlight reel, highlight reel, highlight reel.

      My favorites are the people who share their struggles along with their victories - it's about time we all let social media see the whole truth!

  2. I understand this feeling so well! You know what? I just read this again yesterday, and it's as wise as the day I first read it: http://momastery.com/blog/2013/06/21/quit-pointing-your-avocado-at-me/

    Hugs to you, you are human and want to be a great one, so you feel this pressure.

    1. Thanks, Tammigirl! What a great article - so many truths wrapped up in a fun, honest package :)

  3. I've enjoyed everyone of those 60,000 words. never stop writing. please.

  4. Real Life matters !!!!!! That's what I love about your writing. It's real!! Keep going


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