Once upon a time in a land not so far away there lived a Tortoise and a Hare. The Tortoise and the Hare were great friends for they both liked to write books. They met occasionally to chat over coffee about their difficulties in writing and the latest news in the publishing industry. They sat together at writer’s group meetings, and always joked with one another on Facebook. The bond between the two grew quite strong over the years as they clung together to survive the torment of the slush pile.
Then one day, they talked of something they never spoke of before: daily word counts.
The Hare took a sip of his double espresso as he said, “I usually write at least 4,000 words a day or I consider the day a total loss.”
The Tortoise looked down into his half empty cup of chai tea with a frown. “I try to write 1,000 words in a day…that’s my goal anyway.”
“We should have a word count challenge! There’s a hashtag for it and everything! We can start tomorrow. I bet I can get way more than 1,000 words in #1k1Hr.”
The Tortoise agreed after much consideration and at 11:00am the next morning they began their race for words. The minutes ticked past and the Hare pounded out words. It was a stream of thought on the screen, a tempest of dialogue, as he pushed through his rough draft as fast as he could. The Tortoise click, click, clicked at the keys of his laptop. The scene he was writing slowly took shape with every line he typed.
An hour later the Hare announced he had written 1,927 words. Surely no one could beat such a grand number. He grinned and munched on a carrot for his reward. The Tortoise’s gaze lowered to the corner of his screen to see how much he had written over the hour. 672. That was all? How did the Hare write so quickly? The Tortoise was devastated.
A few weeks later the Hare and the Tortoise met for lunch. The Hare had finished his rough draft but complained he had a long road of edits ahead of him. The Tortoise was still steadily writing his rough draft, taking time to think through every scene as he wrote it. He was frustrated his friend, the Hare, was finished with his draft and he wasn’t, but he would never say so.
The next month at their writer’s group meeting, the Hare flopped into a seat and tapped his foot in irritation.
“What’s wrong?” asked the Tortoise.
“I don’t understand it. I wrote an entire manuscript last month.” The Hare scratched his fur covered ear. “Now, I have writer’s block. I can’t write a thing!”
“I’m sorry, Hare. Maybe you’re tired. Take a break; you earned it.” Tortoise offered his friend a smile.
“Perhaps I will. Did you finish your manuscript?”
“Last night. I should have it edited soon.” Tortoise sighed, he’d finished his manuscript…finally.
The Tortoise and the Hare lived happily ever after as writer friends and wrote many bestsellers.
The moral of the story is everyone writes drafts at different speeds. Everyone edits at different speeds, and everyone plans for the next story at different speeds.
Whether you write 452 words in an hour or 2,349, your words are valuable. Celebrate them! Some writers are Tortoises and some are Hares but at the end of the story they both finished the race. Keep writing and don’t ever compare your journey to those around you. Your journey is special because it’s yours.
Are you a Tortoise or a Hare?
xx – E. Michels