Writing is a solitary act, but it doesn’t always have to be. It’s important to come together as a community of writers and cheer each other on.
Each weekend, I’ll post an update on what I’ve been writing, and I’d love for other writers to share–your word count, your goals, a favorite line that you’ve written. Even if you didn’t have time to write and your word count for the week is 0, that’s okay, share it anyway–I guarantee that you won’t be the only one with that word count.
Word Count Update
Last Monday, I gave myself 15 minutes to write before I had to grade a pile of essays. Teaching is an exhausting profession, and when I don’t have a stack of papers to grade, I’m often too tired to string coherent words together, so it’s been three weeks since I’ve written anything. After being away from my story for so long, I’m struggling to get back into the world and characters. Not only did I stare at the screen anxiously for 15 minutes, but I walked away with a couple hundred fewer words than I had before–my word count went backwards! I felt like a failure.
At the beginning of the school year, I had worked out a system for myself. I gave up writing with amazing programs like Scrivener–which I still love–and moved to Google Docs. I worked my way up to 19k words this summer and created a document outline so I could quickly jump between scenes and remember where I was at. My story was always in my pocket, so I could quickly jot down ideas when they inevitably popped up at inconvenient times rather then when I was actually sitting down writing.
This taught me to look at writing in a whole new way. For so long, I held onto this romantic notion that real writing meant I was sitting at my desk with a hot cup of tea to eke out thousands of words in one sitting. Years of failed NaNoWriMo projects showed that this doesn’t work for me. Google Docs gave me the flexibility of writing wherever I’m at. If I had a minute of freetime while waiting for a meeting, I’d pull out my phone and write. If I made it to work early, I’d sit in my car and write. Sometimes I’d only get 50 words in, but that’s okay because my word count slowly climbed. Even better, I was constantly living in the world of my story; it was always there, lingering in the back of my head, ready to tap out through my thumbs onto my phone. When I got home, I was already in the middle of a scene, so I knew exactly what I wanted to write when I did sit down to my computer with a hot mug of tea.
Having strayed from this pattern last month, I now realize that my habit banished my blank-page anxiety. When I followed my romantic notions, writing became this ominous task. I would sit down at my computer and feel this overwhelming pressure to perform–even if I was only performing for myself–and I ended up writing nothing. However, when writing became bite-sized, it was less daunting, and I constantly had ideas flowing through me so that when I sat down to formally write, the overwhelming pressure was gone. Instead, I only felt excitement to finally get the chance to fully write that scene that had been building up in me all day.
Based on this reflection, my goal for this week is to get back into that habit of writing daily, even if it’s only a handful of words at a time. I want to live in my story again. I’m hoping this week that I’ll write 4,000 words. That will help me to finally break 20k! If I can make it to 25k this week, I’d be ecstatic, but it’s looking like a busy week, so that will have to be a stretch goal. The ultimate goal is to simply rebuild those good writing habits.
What are your goals for this week? Do you have a word count goal or a scene you’re looking forward to getting down on paper? Comment below!