“Almost” is a funny word.
It can be tinged with negativity. “I almost finished writing a book.” You tried, but you didn’t quite make it.
It can be tinged with optimism. “I almost got hit by that truck, but it missed.” Thank goodness, a miracle!
The key, I think, is how you approach it. Last fall, I participated in NaNoWriMo. If you aren’t familiar with it (and you probably are), the goal is to write 50,000 words, a complete novel (first draft at least) in 30 days.
It’s really hard. First, that averages out to 1,667 words a day. It’s no joke to write that much ever day, especially if you have a family, and a day job, and other obligations (which most of us have). A lot of people who start don’t finish. Life has a way of getting in the way like that.
Second, writing like that demands the ability to turn off that inner editor. You know, the one who wants to polish every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence until it gleams before going on to the next one. Some writers can do that. Some can’t. Neither one is right, they just are.
The folks who don’t write 50k are often left with a feeling of “I almost made it,” or “I didn’t win.” But here’s the thing, and the message that wrapped up NaNoWriMo: Even if you only wrote 30,000 words, that’s 30,000 words more than you had when you started.
If a typical novel has between 60,000 and 90,000 words, you are one-half to one-third of the way there.
And that’s big, huge in fact. It’s a start. You’ve almost finished. The ring is within your grasp.
I write this on a day when I’m feeling kind of down, actually. I spent the morning reading up on publishing industry news, and was left with a decidedly dispirited attitude. So few people make it. Why should I bother? Why am I even trying to do this writing thing?
And the answer has to be, because I love it. I don’t feel complete if I’m not crafting a story – some kind of story, either my police-procedural series or my middle-grade fantasy. In the end, that’s really the only valid reason there is.
As I told my husband about my feelings, he said, “Look, you’ve been at this for what, three years? Look how far you’ve come. You’ve got books out, stories published. Don’t give up now, you’re almost there.”
Perhaps that is the greatest thing about “almost.” You’re not quite there yet. You’ve got more work to do, more revisions to make, more experience to gain. And there’s a huge amount of luck involved, too. But you’re further along than you were. Don’t give up now.
Because, in the end, the distance from “almost” to “finished” is in your mind.
And that’s one thing that is completely in your control.