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My Writing Anniversary

One year ago, on July 28th, 2008, I embarked on an experimental writing journey.  I aimed to write at least 100 words a day, every single day, no matter how busy I was, no matter where I was, no matter if I had computer with me or if I had to write with the old-fashioned paper and pen.  I actually tried to start this journey on July 15th, but made four different stops and starts.

I had no big plans beyond trying to get out of my writing slumps in which I would not write for months sometimes.  In order to improve as a writer, I needed to learn to write through my fear and insecurity.  I wouldn't write some days because I felt the words were stumbly and awkward and I had nothing interesting or readable to write.  Writing every day taught me to get over that.  It taught me that it may only be my perception that my words stink.  It taught me that when my perception that the words stink is true, that it's okay, and revision is then my best friend.  It taught me that even if the words stink, at least I have the idea down in very rough form.  But most importantly of all, it taught me a habit.

Some days it took me an hour to crank out those hundred words.  Some days it took me all day to put off my writing until the last ten minutes before bedtime to crank out those hundred words. 

My comptetive edge kicked in very quickly after I had a few days under my belt.  I didn't have a long-range goal, which is probably a good thing.  I didn't plan to write for a year or two years or six months or even three months.  But after I started, I didn't want to break my streak.  I know that once I do, it will be very easy for me to backslide into putting it off and not doing any writing at all.  I'm really good at that avoidance thing.  So yes, I plan to keep going.  100 words a day is easy to do.  Really, ten minutes of your day.  How hard is that?

In one year, I wrote:  177,133 words.  That's 17 pennies in my jar.  
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I've been making great writing progress so far this January, which heartens me more than I can express.  Typically, January has been a time when I enter the winter doldrums/post holiday lassitude, and my writing and confidence screech to an ugly halt.  I think my daily writing goal of at least 100 words a day, every single day, can stand up and take a bow for my change in attitude this January.  It's taught me that I do not have to feel the muse sitting on my shoulder in order to write, that I can write a pile of shit and worry about its flow later on, that its okay to take the story in a wrong direction because I can always go back and delete and rewrite, and a whole list of other things that are more subtle, but make themselves felt every day I sit to write.  My enthusiasm for writing, which usually falls to zero in January and can take me many months to re-generate, is high.  I've also been keeping better stats of my writing progress, which doesn't allow me to sit back and whine about how unproductive I am, nor to imagine that I have a gazillion rejections and no acceptances. 

So far for January I have written 6847 words in 8 days of writing and finished a very rough first draft of a short story "Ghost Play."  My daily word count has been 511 words, and the high 1016, and 4 of those 8 days, I have written over 1000 words.

About to block this writerly output are two things.  One, I have finished said short story and must now start on the revising.  This will undoubtedly result in a negative word count for the day as I will most likely be deleting more than I insert.  I'm unsure what to do here, if I should start a new short story and write the 100 word minimum on it each day or do a daily writing exercise of some kind while I revise.  I also think that if I use the track changes feature in word and delete using it, that my word count still includes those deleted words until I accept the change, so that means any words added will increase the word count, but those deledted will not decrease it.  We'll see later today.

The other block upcoming is that I'm going to send my laptop in for repair.  My warranty runs out next month, so this will be the last hurrah.  Last year it went in for a fix because the USB port in the rear was loose.  When it came back, the caps lock key was missing.  I did find it later, and thought all along that it could be snapped back on.  But when I bought new RAM, I found out the key top is broken.  It's the caps lock, who uses it right?  And I can still use it anyway.  But my "o" key is also not working sometimes.  Although, of course, today, it has only not worked once, with all these o's I've typed.  But anyway, the geek guy who helped me with my RAm said they'd probably replace the keyboard to fix the broken caps lock key, so if I can get a new keyboard on a 4-yr-old laptop, I'd better go for it, right?  But that means about a week to ten days with no laptop.  Which means I may have to resort to writing longhand.  I've proved twice now that I can do that, but it still leaves me worried.  Plus we're going back to the coast next weekend and I probably won't have the thing back yet.  If I would have called on Monday like I meant to, it would have been back by next Thurs. I think.  But as is typical for me and phone calls, I waited until yesterday. 

Sorry this is so long, I did not mean to ramble like this.
musingaloud: (Default)
I *think* I snurched this from [ profile] jaylake , although it was 4 days ago so really, I can't be expected to remember where I got the link, can I?  But it was really cool.  So if you haven't listened to stars yet, go lend an ear.  Singing stars.  Oh, and this is for real, from BBC news, not as in American stars from stage and movie and tv, because who the hell wants to hear them make music?

We leave on Sat. for the Happiest Place on Earth, AKA Disneyland.  We return Wed. the 5th.  I'll be offline and incommunicado.  Some intermittent between now and the 1st.  Haven't decided yet whether to take the laptop with me or not.  If I don't, I'll be breaking my 100 words a day record, unless I take pen and paper.  Then again, the record has to be broke sometime, right?  The key is to starting it back up again.

For your edification, my October stats: 
93 days in a row of writing at least 100 words per day.
Total words for the month (as of 10/28/08):  9529  -- (Compared to Sept. word total of 8511)
Average words per day (as of 10/28/08):  340  -- (Compared to Sept. word/day average of 283.7)
Stories out at market:  5   (this is a new high for me, I think)
Of those 5, 1 story has been passed up the ladder and is under consideration by the powers that be, and another is a tentative sale, although I've not heard back since my acceptance, which is troubling, but I is being patient, I tell you, PATIENT!!!
Stories published this month:  1

I'm mightily pleased with the output of words.  One story was finished and subbed.  Another story revised and subbed.  Three flashes completed at LH, although none have had a revising yet in order to be subbed.  Still, it's a far cry from the last year, in which nothing was finished or sold. 

Over and out!

musingaloud: (Default)
September writing progress:

Total words for the month:  8511  (compared to 5544 for August)
Average words per day:  283.7  (compared to 178.84 for August)
# of days in the War on Words:  65 (days of writing 100+ words a day in a row)
# of stories written on:  4
# of stories finished:  0
Time spent revising other stories ("finished" stories):  approx. 2 hours
Stories revised to final draft:  2

As some of you may have noticed, in July I began my grand experiment of trying to write at least 100 words a day, every day, in the effort to boost my productivity and learn to stop wasting time that I could spend writing.  After a couple of starts and stops, I finally got it right.  I'm on day 65 now.  I've even dragged out pen and paper when I had a raging migraine in order to not miss my writing for the day (and more importantly, not to have to start that damn counter over at Day 1 again).  This works for me because I am at heart a very competitive person, although when I'm not winning, I'm the type that gives up, pouts, and doesn't want to play anymore (hence the reason why I hate gambling so much).  So I've entered into a competition with myself, and I'm winning.  Yay me!  ;-0

Everyone reacts differently to challenges and motivations.  I had heard of this method before and snubbed it.  But once I tried it, I saw it definitely works for me.  What I've learned to do is write, even though I haven't a clue what to write or where the story is going.  Even though my inner editor is chewing at my brain and whispering dark and ego-degrading remarks, I write.  Even though I end up writing and re-writing the beginning to the story four or five days in a row, so most of the previous days words have to be thrown out, I write.  The other thing I'm doing is NOT allowing myself to go back and re-edit what I wrote the day before.  Because in that road lies madness.  I edit and re-edit and revise and then I get disgusted and my go-hide-in-a-hole-and-pout tendency comes to fore and I quit, disgusted, with no actual words for the day.  Revision is for when Draft #1 is complete!  (repeat, spit, and repeat again).

I am worried that I still have no complete story done for the month, even though I have written 8.5k.  I did work on 4 different stories, though, and the one I spent the most time on is closing in on a ending, so I have a clearer vision of what to do. 

I am greatly cheered, however, but the uppage in wordage from July to August.  It proves what I hoped would happen:  that as the habit sets in for me, and the lambasting of inner editor grows stronger, my word count and ability to write more on the fly would increase.  I wrote 50 words more per day in September, part of which came from the flash challenge over at LH, which was another really good positive experience that surprised me.  I didn't realize it would be so freeing to HAVE to write that fast in 90 minutes.

What I've learned through this:  The writing muscle, like all muscles, needs exercise, and it needs to be used every single day else it turns to flab and gets onery and unmotivated.  The inner editor, left unchecked, is a very Bad Thing.  It has its moments when it's quite useful, so not to turn it off altogether, but writing on instinct has its place too.

Enough of me.  Over and out.
musingaloud: (Default)

A post by [ profile] jimvanpelt  here  about writing productivity echoed what I've been finding out during my Writing 100 Words a Day experiment. 

When you feel you can't write, WRITE!  For one thing, it disproves your inner notion that you cannot write because there's not enough time, nothing to say, etc etc etc. 

What writing daily has taught me is that I don't have to be in the mood to write (Note I don't say write *WELL* here!).  I'm setting a habit.  And I have an addictive type personality regarding habit-forming things.  So I'm hopeful that writing daily will be one instance of an addictive habit gone good.  Already, I can't face breaking my writing streak by missing a day. I've now written 46 days in a row, at least 100 words per day, and I've even resorted to writing longhand and at 6 AM -- BEFORE COFFEE!!!!! -- to keep it up. 

The downside might be I'm more interested in just writing my 100 words per day and not much more.  Next step is to add a time limit (say 30 minutes to an hour).  I'm no longer going to let myself use the excuse that I haven't time to write.  That's all it is -- an excuse.  I've learned I can write my 100 words in as less as 5-10 minutes.  Other people work full-time jobs, raise a family, and write.  I can too. 

No more excuses.

Random things I learned today:

1.  It's really hard to chew and swallow while doing yoga.

2.  The best course to take against inaction is action.  If you're feeling tired and depressed, get some exercise.

3.  Well, if I've learned anything else, I've forgotten already.  Move along, now.
musingaloud: (Default)
August words: 5544
Club 100 as of 9/4/08: 39
Stories completed: 0
Rough drafts completed: 0
Subs made: 0

So, despite a success in the word count and days of writing in a row, I'm not so good on the production level. But I hope as the habit really makes a move on my system to increase my writing time each day. So far it's sometimes only 30 minutes, and that's during commercials of TV time. Bad me.

On another front: There is no worse thing than watching your grown kid go through an emotional trial and you can do nothing -- NOTHING -- to make it better. At least when they're little you can wrap them in your arms and rock away their hurts, or at least hold them until the hurts subside. When they're an adult you can offer hugs and words of encouragement, but then must step aside and watch while they mend their own hurts, knowing there will be scars left. It makes your heart ache.
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Club 100 Day = 29!!!! Words for August = 4629 Average words/day = 193

Words written in August that might be usable in story = 3 or 4. No no, I jest. I hope I jest. No, Shirley, I jest.

So in my quest to write 100 words a day, the other thing I'm doing is when I sit down to write, I don't first re-read what I've already written. Unless I've forgotten where I'm at, and then I only read the previous day's writing. This is contrary to how I usually write. My normal routine is to start each writing session by reading the story from the beginning. This results in an almost photogenic memory of the story's beginning, which doesn't sit too well when I need to revise, because the story is too familiar. It also leaves traces of phrases or words I've used in my memory and I tend to re-use them in the story without consciously remembering it's already been used.

But the WiP is about to the point where I need to go back through and read from the beginning, but I confess I'm a bit scared to do so. I was writing along the other night and a new idea occurred to me, a new motivation for my MC. I think I'm going to use it, but it will involve a new beginning at the very least. That's not a biggie, I was pretty certain the beginning I had was going to go anyway. I hope this will be a case of the words not being the total pieces of crap that I think they are. Otherwise I need to re-write from scratch.

We go camping this weekend. I guess I'll have to take pencil and paper to keep up with my 100 words per day. I can just see me now trying to count the words though. I betcha I get lost and have to start over a couple of times. I could take the laptop for my daily writing, but the battery doesn't last very long anymore, although I could charge up my old one for a spare. But then there's the dust and dirt to deal with, plus why take it up there where it could get dropped or sat on or who knows what when I can just as easily write longhand. I'll probably print out a story that needs editing to take along too.
musingaloud: (Default)
That was, I swear, the quickest 9 days I've ever spent doing absolutely nothing. I so needed that respite from grandbaby-sitting. The weather was nice, lots of fog in the mornings, but it wasn't freezing cold, so the cooler air was a nice change from our sunny and hot at home. We even got caught in a flash rainstorm on our walk one day, but since it wasn't cold, we hid out under an overhang for a few minutes until the big drops slowed and then continued on. We did go for about a 3 mile walk each day, then after that it was a lot of tv watching/writing/freecell playing for me. I so didn't want to come home, and usually I'm ready to get back to my home. But we've had our little piece of heaven over there for 2 1/2 years now, so it feels like home there, too. Best of both worlds. And since I was burned out from baby-sitting, I really didn't miss the little guy. He was happy to get back into his routine this morning though. He came in with a big grin and Grandma got lots of hugs and kisses today.

I also started physical therapy today for a nagging neck pain that radiates up into the back of my head on the left side. This has been ongoing really since my rotator cuff injury a couple years ago, so I decided it was time to address it. I've learned so far that I need to elevate my laptop up to eye level so I don't tuck my chin in, as that's a big aggravator. I'm noticing, now, though as I type, that the keyboard is not at an optimum level for my shoulders, so I'll have to ask about that. I'm feeling some tension on both sides of my shoulders right now. If it ain't one thing!

Here's my good news on the writing side of life. After today's writing (which I promise I will start when I finish here), I'm on Day 22 of my Club 100. Total words for the month of August so far are 3421. All on the new SF story. And I still guarantee they're mostly crap, but I'm getting the bare skeleton of the story done. I'm about ready to head into the finish. I just got most of the big catalyst that brings on the confrontation. Still not sure if this is exciting enough of a story, it involves schoolchildren. And I'm pretty sure I didn't start the story at the right spot, but I am confident that all will become clear after I get this *very* rough draft done. I'm feeling all acomplished. Especially since this story has been like trying to cut the fingernails and toenails on my grandbaby.
Added later: Ech. Hit the wall. I'm pooped. I'll be lucky to get 100 words on the crap-o-meter tonight. But I will.
musingaloud: (soitenly)
*does the happy dance*

Fourteen days straight of writing 100 words a day = 1736 words.  Yay me! 

Now I've hit a point where my confidence is starting to return.  I've hit a point where I'll be *damned* if I miss a day from my "streak" out of pure laziness/low confidence.  I write, even if I'm not forming a readable sentence or thought.  I write. 

I may write 14 different openings for the story.  I may toss out the words I wrote yesterday and rewrite them today.  But I write. 

I posted the opening on 14 Lines the other day and have received really helpful comments.  I posted the opening, not sure if it's the opening I'll stay with.  Usually I only offer completed works for crits, so this was a big experiment to post a rough WIP.  I'm pleased with the comments.  Still not sure it's the right opening, but once I get the story finished, (and I *will* this time) I have faith I'll know then.

One more thing to remark on:  I've struggled so with the SF story (which leaves me feeling like I'm trying to write longhand in a dark room).  Usually I would have given up and trunked it.  Maybe the end result will be trunked eventually.  But before that, it *will* be finished, and it will be submitted somewhere.  "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."  .... oh, sorry, got caught up in the dramatic moment there.  :-D
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I've said here before that my writing took a nose dive. I've had trouble getting back in the step of things. Open a blank file, stare at it, go play 2 games of freecell. Come back to blank page, go play 4 games of freecell. I tell myself, you gotta write something, just let it be a piece of crap, at least it's writing. I don't do it. Which is strange because I'm a very disciplined person.

So I finally got serious and decided to do the Club 100 thing. I think there's a website, but basically it's just writing 100 words a day and keeping track. So I trudged out a new Excel sheet and set it up. I started Aug. 15, wrote 3 days and skipped 1. Wrote 2 days and then skipped 6. Started from Day 1 again and now I'm at 8 days straight of at least 100 words. And now my discipline is setting in because I don't want to break my "streak". (LOL, big EIGHT days for me is a streak!)

Trust me, the words are crap. Because most nights I wait until about 10 pm, farting around wasting time because I don't know what to write, and then I can't go to bed without my 100 words, so I just write a bunch of shit that I know will have to be cut out of the story, but hey, it's 100 words and then I can quit and go to bed. The problem is I'm trying to start a new story, and it's a SF story, which I do NOT write. I don't know the story, I don't know the technical details that should be somewhat factual, and as it turned out, I didn't even know the characters. But hey, I was writing and I was figuring out what *won't* work, and, as it turned out, I was working on the characters in the dimmest darkest section of my mind. Because last night the story came to me. I needed the character's motivation, I knew the plot conflict, but what was her personal story that resonates with the plot? And now I know it. I think the story will come out now. I'm having trouble finding the opening scene, but once I get that out of the way, (And goodness knows I have enough to choose from--about 3 so far) the rest of the story should flow. *Should* being the operative word there.

So this post is a testament to how just sitting down to write something, anything at all can work, cause it was only supposed to be 1 or 2 paragraphs!

On the yucky front, I don't feel well today. Not *bad*, but not good. Just yucky where you wanna go to bed and read all day. But I can't. But vacation's coming! We leave Thursday night for 9 days at the coast. And hopefully a lot of writing!


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July 2012

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