Thursday, September 21, 2017

Not So Simple Math

(Note: I meant to post this yesterday. There will be an update at the end.)

The other week, while browsing the Reference section at the local Barnes and Noble, I came across a tome entitled Write a Book in a Month. I flipped through it briefly and put it back. I already know how to write a book in a month. An e-book, yeah, those only run about 30K-50K words on average, but it’s labeled a book so it counts.

Besides, I’m betting the book I put back relies heavily on the plotting aspects. If you spend the first two weeks thoroughly developing your characters and plotting out your story, then all you have to do for the second two weeks is write. Everything’s already been taken care of.

Unfortunately, I’m a pantser. Plotting doesn’t always work for me. I’ll start a story with no idea what’s going to happen or who the characters are. I fill all that in as I go. Finding it out is what makes writing fun, as well as a pain in the ass.

Whichever plan you use, there’s a mathematical formula for writing a book in a month. 1000w X 30d = 30,000b. One thousand words a day written every day for thirty days equals a complete 30,000-word story. That amounts to a book, if you stretch the definition a bit. Your book will be longer or shorter if you write more or less per day, but 1000 words makes a good standard. It only takes about an hour or two, depending on how fast you type. It helps if you know what you want to write, but that’s a pantser problem.

In theory, it should work. I’m sure it does work, for most people. The reason it doesn’t work for me is because I don’t do it. I screw off. I procrastinate. Life keeps throwing distractions at me. I sit down to type and the words dry up. I have to stop and make dinner. I just don’t have time. Well, that excuse I can shoot down pretty quick. I was (and probably still am; just had a little setback over the weekend) addicted to video games. I can sit and play games nonstop for anywhere from five to ten hours at a shot. I most certainly do have time, so we can strike that from the list.

What I don’t appear to have is discipline or motivation. I’m the fly in my own ointment.

I did take a shot at it recently. About halfway through August I resolved to write a minimum of 1000 words a day for 30 days in a row. Didn’t work out. No idea why. I couldn’t sit down and write for an hour, and I’ve got three to four things I know I could work on. I just didn’t. I’d end up doing other things.

I decided to hit the reset button and make September my 30 days. I wrote about 700 words on September 1, pretty good for me. On September 2 I discovered I had freelance work, a paying assignment with a short deadline. This was after I’d already planned on mowing the lawn and getting the ironing out of the way. That plus the paid work ate up my time. I spent the Labor Day weekend … well, laboring.

All that was out of the way by Wednesday, though. Did I write? ‘Fraid not. All of a sudden I’m blogging again. That’s what I’ve been writing instead of my thousand words. My subconscious mind is a bugger when it comes to doubling down.

The formula does work. You can write a book in a month. The key word is “write.” If you don’t write those thousand words, or any words at all, that book just ain’t gonna happen. Maybe I should have bought that book at B&N and paid attention to it. There may be more to this plotting stuff than I thought.

So I’m going public. I’m going to try it again. Write 1000 words a day and see where I am after 30 days. I’m putting that intention right here in the open for everyone to see and sneer at. I’m hoping the fear of failure and public humiliation will provide the kick in the ass I need to get said ass in gear.

To the basic formula I’m adding a couple of twists to help me along. Like I said, I’ve got maybe three or four stories already started, that I could be working on. Ideally, I should pick one project to concentrate on so it’ll get done in a month. That doesn’t seem to be working. Let’s try something else: pick one main project and use the other three as backups. If the main one fizzles, or I go on a block or something, I’ll hop over to one of the others. If the 1000 words ends up getting split between three stories on a given day, so what? It’s still 1000 words. Sooner or later something will get finished. Math’s absolute like that.

It also gives me blogging topics, as I report my ongoing success and/or failure. I could even use the 1000 words as a post. This is my page and I can do what I want with it. I’ve thought about returning to Shapeshifter Seductions, which has lain fallow of late, and finally finishing that serial story I abandoned when the writer’s block hit. Those chapters run roughly 1000 words and they’re fiction, so it counts. That’ll be my emergency plan.

As I sit here typing this, it’s Wednesday, September 20. That’s my start date, regardless of when this gets posted. Today and for the 29 days that follow, I will be writing a minimum of 1000 words of fiction, come hell, high water (been a lot of that lately, especially in the south), house- and yardwork, or writer’s block. Or even paid assignments. I used to put even those aside while caught up in the gaming addiction. If I can waste an hour or ten playing Spider Solitaire, I can damn well find the time to write 1000 words.

If nothing else, it’ll be excellent training for the upcoming NaNoWriMo, something else I’ve attempted several times in the past, only to crash and burn within a week. This year when I aim, I might just hit the target. Let’s find out together, shall we?

UPDATE: I got a late start yesterday due to lawn mowing, grocery shopping, and a set of edits that had to go out. And I still wrote 700 words. So there. I might have got all 1000 down, but Supernatural came on. Today should be easier: I wrote about 200-300 words this morning, and Project: Runway has long commercial breaks. Time to whip out the pen and notebook. To be continued ...

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