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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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Over at [livejournal.com profile] odysseyworkshop , David H. Hendrickson has written a post that really resonated with me.  If you're so inclined, the post is Here

He talks about the constant rejection that writers face and how difficult it sometimes is to have confidence in yourself.  He goes on to say John D. MacDonald used to say that the first million words one writes as a writer are crap.  (Hey, I just wrote 500 of those the other day!!)

So in the goal of writing those million words of crap and how to track one's progress, Mr. Hendrickson keeps a jar on his desk.  For every 10,000 words he writes, he puts a penny in the jar.  A hundred pennies means a million words. 

I thought it was appropriate to use a penny for every 10k, as that's probably about what most of us average as "pay" for our work, by the time you figure in muse time, rewriting and revision and plotting and character study.  Personally, I doubt I make even that much.  

I thought it a pretty neat idea though.  I've been tracking my daily progress of writing at least 100 words a day for almost a year now.  On July 28, I will have made a year.  And in that almost year, I've tracked 76k of words.  I'm not counting what I've written prior to last July, although I may go back at some point and try to guesstimate how many words I have prior. 

But for now, there are 7 pennies in my jar.



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