A week ago I wrote about a shift I was making in the way I work in order to ensure that I write fiction every day. I have successfully completed a full week in which I hit at least 500 words every day. Here are some observations from this first week:
- 500 words is not much. I can do it in half an hour, which means I can do it almost any time. But because I can do it at any time, I haven’t yet established a consistent habit of when I do it. Mostly I’ve done my writing in the evenings. It would be nice to have specific time set aside, but I get what I can take at this point.
- I’ve been deliberately trying to slow down and think more about storytelling as I go. I don’t know if this is working yet.
- I am trying not to focus on the word count when I start. I just want to write. After 30 minutes, I check to see where I am.
- Despite 500 words being “not much” it is just enough to make it perfectly clear when I am struggling and when I am not. Last night I had trouble getting to 500 words. A few nights before I wrote 700 effortless words in 30 minutes.
- I wrote a total of 4,390 words. That in itself is nearly the length of “Take One for the Road,” which appeared in Analog in June. That tells me that I could, if I tried, write a first draft of 1 story each week, assuming the stories were fairly short.
- I’ve been tackling that story that’s given me grief all year long. It is tough but I’m making more progress in it than ever before. I jot down a lot of notes afterward that don’t get captured in my word count.
- I am used to writing complete scenes in one sitting but that hasn’t been the case this week. I stop when I need to stop and pick up where I left off the next day, sometimes mid-scene. That is a new experience for me.
- I look forward to getting in my 500 words. I wish I could do it earlier in the day and get an early “win.” But at least I’m going to bed knowing that I got in my quota of fiction-writing for the day. That alone helps with my stress levels.
The total number of words I wrote this week is about 500 words more than the length of my story so far. I rewrote a scene at one point and filed the original in my “deleted scenes” folder. Since the act of writing is what I am aiming for, I count the words, even though the scene isn’t being used. (I still got in the practice, so to speak.)
I still think I’m a long way from establishing the habit of getting in at least 500 words every single day. But one week is a good start and quite frankly, it is better than what I have done for most of the year thus far.