On writing 500 words a day / by vanessa

You know what's harder than writing 500 words a day for a 30 days? Not apologizing for writing a piece of crap. At an early age I was diagnosed with a condition called chronic perfectionism*. Maybe you've heard of it. It's not necessarily marked by doing things well, as the name might suggest. Rather, its symptoms are repeated disappointment in oneself and physical twitching at the sight of a grammatical error. Unfortunately, no official cure has been found, though it is manageable by treatment, which includes exercises like stop doing that and get older, you'll care less. I'm still on the fence about the treatment plan. 

Anyway, over the last eight days, I've been forcing myself to post and not caveat it with a caution to potential readers of the impending suck. While at times my insides have screamed with the need to make sure that the Internet knows that hey, this is three to five minutes of your life you will never get back, there's a tiny stoic army in me compelling me to just post, and let the fear of public sucking go unstated.

For a chronic perfectionist, that feels like jumping without a net. And it's been strangely freeing. I don't believe it's had a measurable difference in the quality of my writing, but it's definitely affected my own happiness with writing. It's like I went to a party for myself--because it's hard enough to pen 500 words a day amidst, you know, life--and no one invited Eeyore. It's ending on an accomplishment instead of a judgment. So that's been good.

I feel obligated to admit that it's been a little more challenging to post publicly publicly. I mean, I've definitely done it, but not always willingly and not always consistently. My reluctance to post daily to my own profile is less rooted in being scared of being judged--though that was definitely a thought going into this--and more to do with my own personal social media strategy, which falls under the umbrella of something I call The Boy Who Cried Wolf effect**. It is has yet to be peer reviewed in a journal. My theory is that the greater volume of things I post that I don't really care about, like having the plague, the more likely people are to ignore the things that are really important to me, like would anyone like to get up at six a.m. and go to a yoga dance party with me? I'd prefer the latter not happen, so I limit the former. Incidentally, I don't recommend this strategy, since it doesn't guarantee that anyone will ever get up at six a.m. and go with you to a yoga dance party. 

Overall, writing daily has been more of a treasure than a curse. There's the whole finding time thing, but when I decided to write 500 words a day, I set out thinking of it as an opportunity to tell 30 stories. And while those stories sometimes come out as typing through sludge, I am excited to look back and see the result of this effort.

*Holy shit. On a lark I googled, symptoms of perfectionism and learned that it's basically a gateway to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Which makes sense, but how disappointing. I thought I made this shit up. 

**Apparently that's a thing too, though in simpler terms it's just known as "posting too much" in social media strategy circles. Going back to my day job now.