Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Writing Streak is Over (and Why That's a Good Thing)

Scott D. Parker

Longtime readers of my column (and by longtime, I'm going as far back as early 2013) know that the one simple thing I did to get myself off my non-writing snide was to start writing everyday. I fuddled around most of May 2013 and then, on Memorial Day 2013 (27 May for the literalists), I decided to ask myself a simple question: how many days in a row can I write fiction?

I now have my answer: 255 days. Now, a bit of context.

For much of that streak--May - November--I was producing, on average, 800-1000 words per day. I busted out two novels from mid June to mid October. That was after *not* writing anything for seven years. I gave myself permission to drop the word count down to 500 a day since I had been so productive so consistently for so long.

One thing led to another and I stopped striving for the 500…but I kept the streak going. Even on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, I kept writing. It was slower, it was often messy, but I kept it going.

Along the way, however, I started wondering if the streak itself had become too much of a Thing, if it, perhaps, was getting in the way of the writing. Think about this: I have not, yet, read through those two manuscripts I finished last year. Partly that's a result of my other reading but there's also the obvious thing: the time I had to spend reading the manuscript I was using to write new words. I had begun to consider breaking the streak just because, to reset myself, give me time to read those manuscripts, clean them up, and then look for beta readers.

But I hesitated still. I liked my steak very much. It filled me with lots of pride, even when I was slogging away for a couple hundreds words.

Then, last Friday, between me working my day job all day and then chaperoning a lock-in at church, the writing time slipped away. Poof. Just like that, the streak was over. At first, I was filled with shock and a little sorrow. Then, I took it as a blessing. Without the streak--and without the burden of actually choosing to break it on purpose--I now have time to read those manuscripts (including the other novella I'm nearly done with) with a clear conscience.

I'm still pondering how I will work my various streaks this year. Chances are, I'll start a project and a streak at the same time and continue said streak until said project is completed. That's more logical anyway.

So, a moment of silence for the streak. Thank you for what you did for me. I shall never forget The Streak of 2013.

Oh, and having said all of this and believing it, I then read Chuck Wendig's blog on Thursday.

Crap. I should have kept the steak alive.

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