Saturday, July 2, 2016

What I’ve Learned From A Year and a Half of Daily Writing

Scott D. Parker

As of yesterday, I have written some amount of fiction everyday for a year and a half. I started the current streak on New Year’s Day 2015. I haven’t stopped. I have a minimum target goal of 500 words, but if events of the day encroach, I no longer let it bother me if I don’t hit the 500-word mark. The point is to sit at a computer or be tethered to my dictation software and spin some yarn.

Unfortunately, I have my 1 Jan to 22 Jun 2015 spreadsheet that screwed up so I only have definite numbers since 22 June 2015. That number is 362,524. That’s 993 words a day on average. I’ll take that. It is very nearly the gold standard of 1,000 Words a Day that many authors use to be prolific. My single best day was 29 March 2016 with 7,136. That was for my upcoming western ALWAYS BET ON RED. Not coincidentally, that was one of the monsoon days here in Houston where I didn’t have to go to work and the internet was down. My best stretch happened twice. With NaNoWriMo 2015, I exceeded 1,000 words for the entire 35-day stretch it took me to write the second Gordon Gardner book. Back in August, I wrote the first Lillian Saxton book—now with a new title: ULTERIOR OBJECTIVES—in a 40-day stretch, missing the 1,000-word mark only once. Of course, there were other days when things did not go as smoothly and I managed 10 words. But I kept at it.

I’ve learned two things over the year-and-a-half. One is enthusiasm. Those mini streaks of 1000-word days are when I’m really excited about the story. Not that I’m not excited about the others, but I was firing on all cylinders. Both of those books were planned out ahead of time and, here’s the key, I had planned start dates. I allowed the excitement to build until I couldn’t wait to start.

The second thing is also obvious to me. As good as it is to be prolific in the creation of stories, if I’m to be a professional writer, then I need to be as equally as prolific on the publishing side of things. The three books I mentioned above have yet to see publication. Granted, all of them are scheduled for this fall, but I’m giving myself a new directive: don’t sit on these stories for so long, especially the short stories. Write’em, edit’em, give’em a cover, and release.

Anyway, the reason I write the occasional post like this is to show the power of math. You may be struggling to write and thinking that your 500-word day or your 100-word day isn’t getting you anywhere. It will. Just give it time. Over time, all the numbers add up and you’ll be amazed at what you can do.

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