Saturday, March 4, 2023

What the Number Three Meant Last Week


Scott D. Parker


I want you to keep that number in mind as you read this post. (And yes, it’s a magical number…)

Last week I posed the question about the best way to measure progress in a story. Specifically, if word count was the best way. Every writer differs and every writer has a way to determine progress, as Dana King commented on last week’s post.

Well, for me, I use word count. Always have. And starting on New Year’s Day, I had written at least 1,000 every day.

Until last Friday.

The day job part of last Friday made it feel like a Monday. Lots of meetings, lots of quick turnaround projects. Even though I worked from home, the day just kept consumed by the demands of the day job. Nothing wrong with that at all—better to have a Monday on a Friday than the alternative.

On the days I work in the office (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), lunch is my fiction writing time. I take my Chromebook and write in an empty conference room. On the days I work from home, I use the fact that I have no commute to work in writing before the day job duties start. But last Friday when I woke up, I was still feeling tired so I opted to sleep in (something I rarely do, even on weekends). It was okay, I told myself, I can pick up the writing at the end of the workday. It’s all good.

But it wasn’t. You see, my early morning sleepy self forgot that the wife and I were heading out to see singer/songwriter Jeff Crosby at Houston’s Mucky Duck. The responsibilities of the day job were going to take me up to and a little beyond five o’clock. The show started at seven. Oh, and I also had to write my post for this blog.

What to do?

Well, I wrote the post y’all read last week and got it posted before we departed for the concert. With that done, I opened up my story and started writing some fiction.

I wrote three words. They consisted of two sentences and, after I hit the return key, an entire paragraph.

I looked at the screen, willing some words to make their way from my brain, through my arms and fingers, and onto the screen. They weren’t happening. That tiredness I woke up with was still with me, even more so with the day job’s activities. I knew I would return from the show and want to keep that one-on-one time with the wife, something that remains an important part of daily life. I also knew my 1,000-word writing streak was in jeopardy. The everyday part of the streak remained alive, but would the thousand-word streak?


I chalked up a notch in the main streak and called it a day. There are more important things than getting a daily word count. It was a stumble, but you know what you’re supposed to do after you stumble, right?

Get up.

The next day I clocked in 1,172 words.

That’s the key takeaway I want to leave you with today. There will always be days in which you won’t or can’t write. A streak might be broken. As irritating as it may be—and after 55 straight days of 1,000+ writing days, it was a bummer—don’t let the break go on longer than a day. Get right back in the groove the next day and start a new streak or habit. Your future self will thank you.

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