Over the summer, I conducted an experiment. After reading Seanan McGuire’s post about her word count goals and methods (link), I decided to give that method a shot, even though a part of me protested that Seanan is a real writer, who knows what she’s doing and I don’t. I had also been reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog (especially the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing entries), and many of the things I read there encouraged me to believe that I could write at least one thousand words per day if I just tried.
Back when I started writing my novel with the working title Love Story, I wrote about five hundred words per day at my lunch break. But when I started a new job, I had a whole new lunch to get used to, and I fell off my schedule for about two years. I thought about restarting a few times in that period, but I also felt embarrassed at the story I had started. It was easy to make excuses and let the file languish.
I also had a couple other stories that I wanted to work on, and on July 2nd (yes, I know, almost a month after Seanan’s blog) I challenged myself to write three thousand words, one thousand on each of three stories, in one day. I’ve got a desk job, forty hours a week, and over the summer most weekends involved a backpacking trip. There were all sorts of reasons that I “couldn’t” do this, but I decided to try anyway.
I would just write one thousand words a day on whichever projects I was working on, at least one thousand words. I would just do it, no bullshit, no excuses and no drama.
Somehow, it worked.
I never worked on more than three projects at a time, so I ended up with about two months of one to three thousand words per day over a period of about a month from July 2nd to August 8th (with a break at the end of July for an extended backpacking trip). I just did it. I got excited and I wrote words even when I didn’t know where the story was going. The more I wrote, the more energized I felt about the whole thing.
I finished that novel I had started three years ago, two novelettes and three short stories. I also started a story that I’ve yet to finish, a sequel of sorts to one of the novelettes. I wrote over sixty thousand words in about a month.
That doesn’t seem real to me, and I just went over my notes from July and August and tallied it all up. But it does make sense with the novelettes around fourteen thousand a piece and over thirty thousand on the novel and one to two thousand for the short stories. Give or take.
But once I finished that novel, I lost steam. I took a break, because I didn’t want to try and maintain that pace while I was taking a class as well as working, and because I wanted to devote enough energy to the class to get a good grade. Excuses, I know. But I haven’t stopped writing. I wrote another short story in September and even submitted it to a market. I’ve been keeping up a blog entry per week for each blog, and while that isn’t fiction, it is writing.
A writer writes, right?
And I’ve got another non-fiction project that I’ll eventually sic on the world. The goal is to have it done by December 15th, but schoolwork may interfere. Still, I’m going to get it finished and published and then get started on the next thing, and the one after that. I’m not going to stop, even if I don’t know where I’m going.
It’s the motion that matters.