As an experiment, for the last 100 days I’ve written every day. No matter how full the hours, I’ve found some time. I’ve been trying to discover if the “write every day” mantra works: whether the writing flows more easily, whether it instills a new discipline.
In those 100 days I’ve written a fraction over 70,000 words — 700 words a day. Each day’s output is recorded in a spreadsheet, and I’ve been pretty good at remembering to update it. I’m a little disappointed in that average — when I’m on a roll/deathmarch, and with no other distractions but toilet and food breaks, I can write 3000 words in a day. There are more demands on my time now, though. As a result the daily word counts range from 250 to 2000 — quite a spread.
Does this mean a new book is about to pop out? If only. And here we come to what I’ve experienced as the negative side to committing to write something every day: the imperative to write, write something, has sometimes meant I haven’t paid proper attention to what I’ve been writing. I haven’t been outlining nearly as much as I usually do, because it eats into writing time. That’s not to say the words are wasted: they’re perfectly serviceable, for the most part. I suppose in a sense I’m learning to write without the crutch of an outline — to trust that a plot and ending will emerge from the mist.
The trouble is I’m not there yet. I reach about 10,000 words into a story and a buzzer goes off in my head: “yes, but how does it end?” And I don’t know, and I get nervous, and decide it’s not going anywhere, at least not yet, and one of the other ideas in my head coughs politely and offers an opening line, and I jump at it because opening lines are easy and full of promise and this time, this time, I’ll figure out an ending.
The good news is, one of the stories I’ve started does now seem to have an approximation to an ending, or at least a hint of an approximation. If I squint it also has a framework that gets me from here to there, almost, just about, which might well stop my brain from bleating long enough to fool it into writing a bit more. The details will evolve — they always do — but I have a working title and I’ve just breached the 20,000 word wall and I’d quite like to finish this one, please.
It won’t be as part of NaNoWriMo. I’m not writing enough words each day and too many Things are happening this month. But I’ll try to keep up the pace. Christmas is a more realistic deadline, albeit one receding with every word I type into, say, my blog. (It’s all your fault, basically.) Finishing by Christmas would allow me a restful holiday season while slave-driving my beta readers to ignore their families and get me some feedback ASAP, and January would be a mess of revisions and panicking so I could get the book out before I inevitably become obsessed with the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
I seem to have just planned the release of a story I’ve only written 20,000 words of.
Maybe I should just shelve it and start another.