Wednesday, May 30, 2012

1000 Words a Day or Else!

Why do I have a picture of me digging a hole in my backyard (it's for the fish pond, you DEXTER fans, it's for the fish pond)? Well, sometimes when I'm writing I feel like I'm stuck in a rut that's inside a deep hole. Or that I'm treading water without waterwings. I've found that all the other "demands" of being a writer (clever Facebook updates, amazingly insightful tweets, googling my own name) do tend to distract from my main goal of writing. So I wanted to change that. redirect my distraction.

Recently, I was re-reading Stephen King's On Writing and he mentioned that he works every day except for Christmas and his birthday. What a lazy bum! Just think about how much more he'd get done if he worked those extra days. His goal is to write 2000 words a day (thankfully, he didn't say whether or not they had to be clever, perfect words). 2000 words! I can do that easily. Just as soon as I get around to it. I have to put the finishing touches on a tweet. Oh, and check my Amazon rankings and...oh, wait...there I go again.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could do half the work of Stephen King in the same amount of time. So I set up a little goal for myself and made up my own rules. I must write 1000 words of new work every day.  Yes, new is the important part. No matter what rewriting is needed, no matter whether I have a reading at a school, a deadline or a dentist appointment, the very first thing I must do is write 1000 new words. No tweets. No checking the hockey score on my virtual hockey team (Authored Destruction). Those words must be written. All of my rewriting, redrafting, pretending to plot, are all on hold until the new words are done. The reason I want to write new words is that I do believe those brand new, sparkly words and sentences that come flowing out of your mind in that first draft are as close to the subconscious as we get as writers. And I think it's important to be in touch with your subconscious first thing in the morning (right after waking). There is a caveat to the rule. I can stockpile words. So if I'm going on a holiday, I will actually take a holiday, as long as I've written my quota for the time that I'm away. But I'm gonna work on my birthday and Christmas (take that Mr. King).

Heck, I made a splendid chart to keep track of it all. And to motivate myself. As you can see I'm ten days into my schedule and I've written 11,000 new words. I'm 1000 words ahead! And I even took last Sunday off.

I have found that the buzz I get from creating that new storyline carries on to my rewriting that I do 2nd thing in the morning. It's like jumpstarting my mind. It crackles. It sparks. Then the creative engine roars into verbtacular life.

So if you see me tweeting early in the morning you have full writes...err...rights to say, "What's up, Dude? Didja get your 1000 new words done yet?" And, I encourage you to do 1000 new a day words, too. Just think about how much brighter the world will be...

At the end of the year I hope to have 365, 000 new words to play with, to bat around, juggle and rewrite and turn into something other people might want to read. Until then I'll keep on plugging (or treadmilldesking) away...



Natalie Hyde said...

Hmmm, just by responding to this post I can add *counts* ten new words! Make that thirteen now! Now seventeen! Nineteen! Twenty!

You're right, Art. This is a great idea. (28!)

Sarah Cass said...

I absolutely love this. I find it so hard to focus and schedule in writing. But if I make myself do 1000 words a day - that seems like something so simple! The extra words would be cake!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the 28 words! Only 972 words to go, Natalie! Glad you like the idea.

And glad you like, it to, Sarah. Have fun!

Sylvia McNicoll said...

Not sure why Steven King or any other writer needs to write on the weekend but 1,000 words is a fair goal.
Read the CCBC article on Alan Cumyn that I wrote. He doesn't believe in this forcing of words.

For me writing come way easier after a good night's sleep, that's key. And when you're further along in the plot you can write 2,000 words a day so that makes up for the days where you don't have the energy to create.

Chris said...

1000 words in one sitting is not usually a problem for me. The problem is doing that every day. It's a pretty reasonable goal though.

Unknown said...

Yeah, Sylvia, I think Stephen does it because he HAS to. Alan is right, he shouldn't force his words. Of course I don't mind forcing mine out. I have to or I'd sit around eating bon bons...

And you're right Chris. The 1000 words usually don't take too long. Less than an hour for me. But I'm in the middle of a novel. Maybe at the beginning of the next one I'll just cry...

Claire Caterer said...

This is great advice, Arthur. Nothing jumpstarts the day like penning brand-new words. I try to do this too, and I find that when I do, my whole day is better--probably because I'm so proud of myself. The Writing Life has a lot of components these days, but it still comes down to, in essence, bringing words and sentences into being.

Unknown said...

Exactly, Claire. I think what keeps me going is that I feel as though I've accomplished something, no matter which direction the day drags me. I've been "centred" so to speak.

Jim said...

It's like a workout. . . for your brain muscle! Was it Herbert that said “The brain is a muscle that moves the world?” I’m botching that quote AND the quotee, I’m almost positive. Anyway, the more you work out, the more you WANT to work out.

So, short aside. . . (okay, possibly not so short).

1) I feel bad that the only comment I've ever left you on your blog was actually on twitter, and borderline. . . whiney. Fine. . . outright whiney.

2) So last night I saw your response that you ditched the Demon Captcha and I replied that I would "reword" you with a smart phone comment. So I logged in and started re-reading this post. (I was at work yesterday when I read your Bradbury post and I'd skimmed a couple others, but this time I actually started to READ it). . . and I fell asleep.

3) The falling asleep had NOTHING to do with the blog and everything to do with a long and emotional day. I say this because I don't want to give you the impression that I found your blog dull. i didn't. I actually was enjoying the light humor sprinkled amidst the slice of life you were sharing.

4) I woke up at 5:30 to get ready for work and checked my phone. . . your blog was still up. And I resolved to comment on my phone then and there. . . but my wife was staring at me and I felt guilt so I closed it and went to take my shower.

5) Everyone was ready early and I had to hit the can for my morning constitutional and I resolved to comment on my phone then and there. . . but there were 7 Words With Friends players waiting for my turn and I felt guilt and so i closed your blog and made my plays before completing my ultimate task.

6) I arrived at work and opened blogs. I checked twitter and reminded myself of my resolution. No longer on my smart phone I was able to read the blog post with an alert mind and NOT fall asleep even once. Kudos to you on that.

7) Since I totally botched my promise I decided to leave you a comment of epic proportion. If I had resolved to write 1000 "new" words per day there could not be a better start to it than the jump start I've given myself on your blog.

8) I like it. I like your "voice". I'll follow. BUT. . . how come no link to the blog from Twitter? Marketing? You're using twitter to get people to the website for the books, as opposed to getting them to the blog? That's what I reasoned. It makes perfect sense.

9) I can leave a longer Y + A = X equation than your winner, I just KNOW it. And I have at least 1 YA in my Hizzy who would benefit from the X. (I realized I'm cross commenting blogs. . . but now you know I've read at LEAST three. . . and that's commitment)

10) I wanted to end with 10 comments total. 539 words.

Jim said...

It pisses me off that I misspelled reward.

Unknown said...


That wasn't a comment. That was the "War and Peace" of comments. I mean, there was even a quote from Herbert in there. Good golly, how to respond?
1)Whiny. Or perhaps illuminatingly whiny. Or just illuminating...
2)Sleep is good for you. I heard a Doctor say that.
3)Sprinkles of humour are also good for you. Unless you have stitches.
4 & 5)5:30! Take a shower. Hit the can. Constitutional. Wait I think I see the too much information line back there. We must have crossed it. But thank you for sharing. ; )
6) Congrats on not falling asleep while reading my blog. Need that on a tshirt.
7)Epic comment. This is more like a Mega-Epic.It's all the Die Hard Movies crashing into the Alien Movies. Which would be kinda cool, actually. Yippi-ki-yay.
8) No link to blog? Either perfect planning. Or...hmmm... a mistake. Oh, let's stick with perfect planning.
9) You really should enter the next contest. You're a hands down winner. Unless, of course,someone else wins.
10) 539 pearls of wisdom you mean. Pearls of wisdom!

Jim said...

It's either sad, or amazing that this comment is not even CLOSE to the longest I've ever left. . . or the longest I've ever lost to Captcha, for that matter.

SO glad it's gone.

Mary said...

Hi Arthur,
I think it's easier for you because your name is so close to "Author".

Seriously, I did the 1000-words a day thing on my last novel and it really helped me get through the first draft.

Due to your reminder I am going to challenge myself to do it on this current novel. As soon as I get my treadmill desk set up...
Are you the treadmill desk Arthur?

Unknown said...

1000 words a day still working for me, Mary.

But looking at 5 days holiday. Trying to "build" up a few extra thousand so I don't fall behind.

Yep, I'm the treadhead writer!