Image courtesy of Drew Coffman
For the past week, I've decided to try something I've never done before.
I'm really not someone who enjoys routine. As a writer, I tend to go through phases that range from incredibly productive to not writing at all for several months. I write when I have a story to be told.
My personal best was 10,000 words in one day, whilst writing Georg[i]e. The past few months, since finishing Splintered Door, have involved nothing but blog posts.
So, in order to meet my New Year oath of finishing a novel this year, I've set myself the target of writing one thousand words a day. A daily word count is something I've never set myself before, and I strongly doubted that I would last more than a couple of days before raising my middle finger to the screen and immersing myself in online colouring, or the entire back catalogue of Jenna Marbles.
Instead, I sit here surprised.
This time last week, the novel sat at 10,432. Over the past seven days, I've written at an average of 1,056 words per day, with a low of 834 and a high of 1,203. I've deleted around 41 words and added a grand total of 7,389 to the manuscript. It's now at 17,780. How chuffed am I?
The hardest day was yesterday. I find it difficult to settle into writing when I know that I have something to go out and do, so I put off writing until I got home from horse riding, at which point I was absolutely shattered. All I wanted to do was soak in the tub and drink wine.
The easiest was probably Tuesday, when I became so engrossed in the action that I went 200 words over before realising I should stop. I could have carried on, but I've found it's not a bad idea to quit on a high. I fall back into the plot much quicker the next day.
Thankfully, so far, I haven't hit any major blocks. Knowing that I have to clock off after 1,000 words releases me to spend the rest of the day, guilt free, contemplating where the story will go tomorrow, doing my research, and working out any fiddly details that need resolving. Once I've filled my quota, knowing that I'm not allowed to type until the next day often makes me want to type more.
Having said that, once the page is open, it isn't always an unstoppable outpouring of words. Sometimes I'll do a paragraph, check Facebook, do another, and write a blog post. Other times, I start, then realise I need to go and read Wiki for an hour to work out how the politics of a nineteenth century Middle Eastern harem worked, before I can go on.
It doesn't matter how long it takes me to complete my quota, just so long as it's filled. I'm not allowed to miss a day and then aim for 2,000 the next day. It has to be every day. Though, if I fall short by fewer than 200 words, I can carry that over, so long as my daily average remains 1,000 or above.
So far, one week has not been at all unpleasant. It's actually started to feel a little more like a vocation than a hobby. Let's see how I feel about it in another couple of weeks.