That’s me talking to me, by the way. In the title, I mean.
Recently I re-did my About Me page, and I realized something.
When I decided to start blogging here at Ms. Bookish, it was with two goals in mind: to read regularly and to write regularly. In On Writing, Stephen King wrote:
Read four hours a day and write four hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.
I’m passing the reading part of the requirements with flying colors. The writing part? Well, I am writing a lot each day, but as in the past, it’s not necessarily the kind of writing I want to be doing.
So it’s time to get On the Write Track. With heavy-duty doses of accountability.
33,493 Words: NaNoWriMo 2008
Last November, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I didn’t reach the 50,000 word goal, but I was very satisfied with my 33,493 words.
There was only one glitch.
During the last week of that month, I found myself second guessing everything I was writing. The story was flat; the characters more dead than alive; the writing was really really bad.
I thought, I can’t go on with this. It’s really terrible.
And I stopped working on it.
In On Writing, King suggests writing the first draft without stopping to read what you’ve written; when you do that, you keep the flow of creating your world going. That has always sounded like a good plan to me, so that’s the way I write.
So I had never read my NaNoWriMo novel – until a little while ago when, on a whim, I decided to print it all out. All 33,493 of my words.
And then I sat down to read it.
I was very surprised.
No, it wasn’t in a state to win an Edgar (it’s a mystery). But it was interesting – even to me, and I knew who did it, and why, and how. Reading through it, I tried to see which parts were the really terrible parts I could remember writing: the parts where the story was flat, the characters more dead than alive, the writing really really bad (yes, you’ve heard this before).
But the writing was consistent. Not beautifully polished prose, but still, consistently solid. I couldn’t point to any particular section and say to myself, ah, yes, that’s where I had that one bad session, where the writing just didn’t flow.
I couldn’t tell the parts that flowed out of me, that were a pure joy to write, from the parts that were so agonizing, where I felt the writing just stank.
I learned a very valuable lesson that day.
And when I reached the last page, I was very sorry that I hadn’t written more.
Now For the Accountability
I’ve decided it’s time to stop prancing around, stop being a dilettante about the one thing in the world that has always, for as long as I can remember, been so much a part of me.
I’m not going for the four hours. I have to work for a living after all. And I want to read all the lovely books in my TBR piles. I want to keep blogging (which is, after all, writing and perhaps should count for something).
So here’s the accountability part: I am gong to write (fiction) for half an hour a day.
Yes, it’s baby steps. But I also discovered during NaNoWriMo that I average just under 2,000 words in an hour. Half an hour would give me 1,000 words.
Let me adjust my commitment: half an hour a day, or 1,000 words. Per day. My choice.
I might fudge a bit and give myself a day off here and there. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
Anyone want to join me? Some company on this journey would be fun …