Important stuff first: food. When I started this recurring blog post it was about all the food items that could be found on my desk, but then something happened: I got braces. Eating anything is now a weighty decision that will end in an extended hygiene task. So I have xylitol mints and an assortment of teas and yerba mates (and two kinds of floss, two kinds of toothpicks, wax, and little rubber bands).
On writing. My goal was to put down 50 kilowords of various short pieces. Here’s how I did, with the names obscured to protect myself and future slush readers, pity them: (unix command for the curious: wc -w *.text | sort)
100 xxxx_xxxxxx.text 104 xxxxxxxx.text 274 xxxxx-xxxxxx.text 299 xxxxx.text 556 xxxxx-xxxxxx-xxxxxxxx.text 580 xxxxxxxxx.text 598 xxxxxx-xxxx.text 675 xxxxxxx.text 757 xxxxxxxxxxx-xxxx.text 856 xxxxxx-xxxxx.text 965 xxx.text 1201 xxxxxxxxx.text 1219 xx-xxxxx.text 1674 xxxxxxxxx.text 1760 xxxxxxxx.text 2523 xxxxxxxx.text 2719 xxxx-xxxxx-xxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxx.text 2724 xxxxxxx.text 3162 xxxxxxx.text 3212 xxxxxx.text 3298 xxxxxx.text 3346 xxxx-xxxxx-xxxxxxxx-xxxxxxxx2.text 3626 xxxxxx.text 4216 xxx.text 4234 xxxx.text 6255 xxxxxxxxxx.text 50933 total
That’s a pretty good distribution of sizes. Certainly shows where my confort zone lies.
Why this was good for me at this stage:
- This was a welcome break from my longer piece, which is marinating prior to another edit pass.
- This taught me that 2k a day is eminently doable, even with a day job & family.
- This taught me a trick for battling so-called writer’s block: often when an idea is too “flat” I subconsciously recognize this and hesitate to plow on. Combining two ideas can work wonders.
- I managed to edit a few pieces, four in total, for submission.
- I now have a large pile of stuff to work on editing and/or submit for crit.
Why this wasn’t good for me:
- There were times where the incessant focus on word count seemed harmful. There were days where I wrote rubbish just because I had to lay down some words. (This is arguable–in one case, a story that felt this way suddenly picked up life halfway through. It needs a complete rewrite, but there’s something good buried in there.)
- I estimate maybe about 25% of these stories will get immediately retired with no further work.
- When writing many small pieces, there’s a tendency to abandon something that’s not working in favor of starting something shiny and new. Finishing what you start is important, and this could easily become a bad habit.
Net, it’s been good for me. Earlier Nanos, in which I wrote (or in one case re-wrote) 50k in a single story were good for me at the time, and so was this one. Will I do it again? Likely, but the exact nature of it will no doubt vary depending on the circumstances of my craft and career at that point.