Day 189 – 1st draft complete!

Day one hundred eighty-nine of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 188 and 189: 1,700

I did it! I finished the first draft. Twenty-one chapters over a little more than six months, and it’s done. Things got a bit wobbly the last couple of days as I tried to finish it. It was more difficult to bring the story to an end than I had anticipated. Fortunately, I think it turned out well.

Now that the first draft is done, I’m excited to start reading, revising and re-writing. I do not have a solid sense of the best way to proceed with this stage, so I plan to do a lot of reading up on the subject over the next couple of weeks. And while I have been keeping track of my word count and general progress over the last six months of this Project, now I am faced with no way to quantify my ongoing work. But I don’t think that matters anymore. It’s all part of the process of writing. I will continue to blog about my daily work on writing my first novel, whether I’m reading, writing or revising it.

Day 161 – Writing speed shouldn’t be a factor

Day one hundred sixty-one of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 160 and 161: 1,500

When I first started this project last July, in addition to word count I kept track of the time I spent writing each day. I wanted to do this for two reasons: 1) to get a feel for how much time I could make for writing each day; and 2) to learn about my writing efficiency. After about a month or so I stopped keeping track. Although the information I collected was valuable, once I saw my patterns I didn’t really need to know more. I had no intention of trying to improve those patterns in any formal sense. Specifically, I didn’t want to focus on my writing efficiency because when you commit to writing every day, you don’t make a race of it. Speed shouldn’t be a factor, and for me, it isn’t.

But tonight I wrote 1,000 words in a short amount of time. Much faster than normal. I appreciated that efficiency since I started late. I didn’t force myself to write faster than normal, it just happened that way. As most writers (and artists) know, sometimes the creative flow comes out like a fire hose. Other times, it’s a trickle. Which is why I believe that writing speed shouldn’t be a factor, ever, because you can’t force the flow.

Day 144 – What the reader doesn’t know

Day one hundred forty-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

I had a very long, exhausting day today that left me struggling to keep my eyes open tonight. l was feeling unaccomplished as I tried to write, because I wasn’t sure how the current scene should continue. I was also feeling unaccomplished about only writing 500 words for the second day in a row. Which is really pretty good, all things considered. (Note to self: Any amount of writing is an accomplishment, as long as you are writing every day.)

I have had this ongoing feeling of being a disappointment to future readers because of difficulties I am having as I write. Doubts about the scenes. Concerns about the characters. Struggles with word usage, flow, sentence structure, description, etc. Tonight it occurred to me that none of that stuff matters right now. I will be editing and re-writing and polishing my manuscript many times before future readers lay their eyes upon it. One hopes that by then, the difficulties and doubts will have evaporated. They will be non-existent. And the readers will never know that I struggled with this part or totally bombed that part. They will only see the shiny end product.

I must remind myself that it doesn’t have to be great yet. It will get there. I don’t have to be a writing maniac shattering word count goals. I’m still writing and my book is nearing the end of its first draft. It will get there. And trying to please future readers now, at this early stage, is pointless. They won’t read it in its current state. The book they end up reading will be very different from what it is now. The doubts, struggles and difficulties will be gone and they will be none the wiser. What the reader doesn’t know won’t hurt them.

Day 128 – Surprise yourself

Day one hundred twenty-eight of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,200

Completely weary, I sat down at my laptop quite late tonight. I wanted to just go to bed. But I ignored that need notion and settled in front of the keyboard. Write, I told myself. Even if only a hundred words, write. Think about the story, keep your focus. Write.

1,200 words later, I’m now going to go to bed. Satisfied. Pleased with myself. Totally surprised that I pulled that out this late at night when I was so tired. Sure, I nodded off for a moment here and there. I even startled awake to find sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss across my screen. But that’s what the DELETE key is for. No harm, no foul. 1,200 words down (not including the string of ssss), and the story is continuing to move forward. Progress, when I could have easily just gone to bed and made none.

When you’re feeling like you don’t have it in you or you just plain don’t want to, go for it anyway. You might only manage a hundred words. But then again, you might just surprise yourself.

Day 125 – There is nothing wrong with setting the bar low

Day one hundred twenty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 121, 122, 123, 124 and 125: 2,800

First let me clarify the title of this post. Generally speaking, I believe in setting the bar reasonably high. I say “reasonably” because I’m not a super overachiever. I’d be terrible at it. I am too committed to maintaining a life balance. Overachieving anything, in my humble opinion, requires throwing off the balance. Depending on the goal, something or perhaps a lot of things have to give. Dedicating myself to 365 days of daily writing is setting the bar reasonably high, but nothing more. And here is why: when life requires it, I set the bar for my daily word goal nice and low.

Since this was a holiday week, I gave myself the simple goal of writing at least a couple of sentences each day while we were visiting relatives. Now that’s a goal I can live up to. And guess what? The least amount I wrote in a single day between Tuesday to Saturday was 150 words. Hell yeah, knocked it out of the park. Obviously, I know that’s peanuts in a writer’s world, but I did write every day while in the throes of a holiday break with tons of relatives and activities and distractions and…food. LOTS of food. And I still managed to log a decent amount for the five days. So, yeah. Knocked it out of the park.

Day 107 – A change in locale was all it took

Day one hundred seven of my 365 Day Writing Project

Words: 550

What do you do when forty minutes have passed and you realize you have only written 100 words? Get up and move to a different spot. That is all it took for me to jam out another 450 words in less than half that amount of time. I left my usual place in the living room, carried my laptop into the bathroom and sat on the floor. So here I am, on the bathroom floor leaning up against the bathtub, writing. Hey, whatever works! I would have kept writing except that it is very late and I need to get some sleep before tomorrow shows up. Plus, my ass hurts. I’m stopping at 550 for today and although it isn’t stellar, it isn’t 100 and I’m thrilled about that.

Yesterday I shared on this blog that I tried ending mid-sentence so I could start mid-sentence today. The idea behind this (which comes from some writing advice from other writers) is that you can hit the ground running when you pick up in the middle of a sentence. I didn’t find it particularly useful since I could only manage about 100 words after jumping in. But maybe I’ll give it another try someday. For now, stopping for the night after a solid (.) works just fine.

Day 95 – When motivation wanes, push yourself to get back on track

Day ninety-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,000

Yesterday I only wrote 350 words. The day before that, only 300. And before that, 600. It has been a dismal week of writing by most accounts. But under the circumstances, for me in my little world, it has turned out to be triumphant. That’s because I have been been terribly unmotivated the past few days. I have been distracted and drained by other important things in my life. Writing got bumped lower down the list than it usually is. So it was no minor feat to get down 1,250 words the last three days. I had to force myself to write. Literally. I made myself sit down. Get the fingers on the keyboard. Do something with those fingers. Work the mind. Tickle the imagination. Write.

I FORCED myself. And I’m so glad I did. Because today, I’m back on track. It would have been so easy to take those days off. To just call a break. It would have been so easy to tell myself, “If I’m only going to write a small amount, I might as well just forget it.” It would have been so easy to convince myself to wait until I felt motivated again. But where would that have left me? I’ll tell you where: 1,250 words behind where I was this morning before the motivation kicked back in and I wrote another 1,000. And more than likely, if I hadn’t forced myself to write the last three days I would have still felt unmotivated today. I wouldn’t have gotten back on track so quickly. Three days off would have turned into a week, and then another week, and so on.

I’m 2,250 words better off having pushed on through those tough few days. And, I’m still writing every day. Triumphant.

Day 60 – Writing every day for two months really adds up

Day sixty of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,050

TWO MONTH TALLY: 63,335 words (approx.)

Hooray for another milestone! When I think about all of the writing I have done the last 60 days, I’m very pleased with my progress. I did some quick math. I have written approximately 63,335 words over the last 60 days. That means I have averaged about 1,055 words per day.* That’s progress I have only dreamed of making in the past. Now, I’m making it. Real, verified progress. And man, does it feel good.

I’m a little stunned at seeing these numbers in black and white, actually. I have never written this much or this often in my life, and to experience how it affects me is eye-opening. I’m happier. I have a more positive outlook. I’m tired from the late nights yet energized to keep at it. I’m less stressed, less obsessive-compulsive, less serious. I’m more inspired, more creative, more caring of myself. I’m daydreaming on a daily basis, which is surprisingly good for my soul. I’m a better version of myself, and while I know I have a long way to go to reach my goals, I have never been more certain about what I am meant to do with my life. After 60 days of progress, I know that I am going to do it.

I am looking forward to writing for the next 305 days and the progress that’s in store for me.

*Note: These numbers only represent the writing I do for my book. They do not include the writing I have done on this blog. I would guess that each of my blog posts is around 250-500 words, so really I’m probably averaging around 1,350 per day.