Word count and update…

I mentioned before that an off-day quickly leads me to give up, because I see it as a failure and as evidence that I can’t succeed at my goals. I know in my mind that’s not true, but it’s how it feels. And feelings are pretty powerful.

I almost let it happen again. The last half of January was quite a struggle for me, for lots of reasons. But I’ve been keeping track of my writing, and I realized that I actually had done some significant writing in January: a total of 9737 words. And that was in the face of a depressive spiral.

Here’s what my writing pattern has looked like so far this year:

I decided to reset my goals to something more realistic. I noticed that I usually managed to write at least 500 words, but that I rarely hit 1000. So, my new goal is consistency: just write something every day. A minor stretch goal is to write at least 500 words five days a week. A major stretch goal on any given day is to hit 1000+ words.

And I’ve done that for the past two weeks. The week of 1/29-2/4, I wrote five days, crossing 500 every day and 1000 on Friday. This past week, I wrote six days, and surpassed 1000 on Thursday (actually hit 1211 words that day); granted, I wrote fewer than 200 words on Friday, but I did write something, and that’s the first level of success.

This is important because, more than churning out words, I want to build the habit of writing. And it’s like building a muscle: I have to start light and work up to heavier goals. Goal number one: just write something. Consistency builds habits.

Rest is also important. I’m taking Sunday as my “day off” – though if I happen to feel like writing, I’m not going to stop myself.

So that’s where I am today. If you’re having trouble being consistent in your writing, well, you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to start again, and don’t be ashamed of setting realistic goals. You’ll never finish a novel if you’re holding yourself to unrealistic standards. But even one new word brings you closer to a completed story.


Okay, here’s the plan…

photo by nicoleleec (https://www.flickr.com/photos/51550312@N08/)

I live in Seattle, where you can’t toss a stone without hitting a writer’s group. It might be a requirement for residency to be an aspiring writer of some sort or other. So it’s no surprise that I’m also a writer.

I mostly write fantasy space opera. I like epic heroic stories in which both science and magic work alongside each other. Likewise, I aim for grand universe-shaking plots that also rely on profound relationships between characters. Why have either/or when you can have both/and?

Ambition’s not a bad thing, is it?

So far, my problem has been in finishing work. I’ve finished some short stories, but the feedback is universally that the story doesn’t feel “ended” or “complete”: it feels like part of a novel. I’ve finished exactly one draft of a novel, back in college, but it was hardly coherent as a story. Since then, I’ve started several novels and have lost stamina partway through.

I have two goals for this blog: first, to provide some public accountability; and second, to solicit some feedback. Therefore, I plan to post daily (or almost daily) with just a simple word count for the day. It helps me to know that I’m writing for someone, so I’ll leave comments open even on those posts. Maybe you can comment with your word counts, too, and we can build a community of support?

Regularly – at least once a month, but maybe as often as weekly – I’ll post excerpts from my current work-in-progress. I might ask for general impressions, or I might be looking for a specific kind of feedback. I’ll be looking for honest opinions and, as much as you’re able, the specific phrases or┬ápassages┬áthat gave rise to those opinions. For example, “When she kicks the cat, it makes me think she’s cruel” is more helpful than “I hate her!”, and “The 2000-word description of the door slows me down; one sentence is plenty” tells me more than “So boooooring!”

Finally, I’ll randomly post links to stuff I find helpful and interesting around the internet. Because this is a blog, after all, and somebody’s got to keep the internet going!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!