I’m batting a thousand; No, wait, I’m writing a thousand…

Computer_keyboardYou may have noticed I’m not around online as much (or maybe not). I’ve actually tried to do a better job scheduling Facebook posts and tweets. But, overall, interaction wise, I pop in sporadically.

Well, the reason is, I decided to join the Thousand-a-Day challenge. I’m not referring to eating bon-bons (I think I’d stop after day one; the first 50 or so would be glorious, and then the project would slowly descend into disgust). It’s writing a thousand words a day. I heard about the challenge when Martin Crosbie wrote about it for Indies Unlimited back in February. I thought it was interesting, but I didn’t see the need to do it. I told myself that I liked having editing phases and writing phases, so I could really focus in on a project. While that’s true, that kind of schedule can also end up delaying things and wasting time.

So, when Martin wrote a second piece explaining how his thousand words a day was going, I was quite interested. Martin found that he had found his rhythm, that once he’d made it a priority, he was writing a thousand words a day and making great progress on his novels. Also, because he made it a priority, he dropped all the unnecessary things that would interfere with his goal.

I realized that’s what I needed. I had big plans at the beginning of the year. My goal was to get two books published this year: the final Life First book (Third Life: Taken) and my young adult novel, Scented. I’d planned to be finished writing the first draft of Scented by the end of this month, and then focus on getting Third Life out the door.

In reality, I’ve done very little writing on Scented. I did squeeze in the publication of my short story collection Four Mothers, so if we were playing the blame game, I could point to that. Only, the blame game sucks because it doesn’t actually get your goal accomplished (unless your goal is to assign blame; and if that’s your goal, that’s a sad state of affairs). Third Life is also behind in it’s final edits. You could say, perhaps I bit off more than I could chew. But, I don’t think that’s it. I think I need to really focus better so I can get more accomplished.

With this in my mind, I realized a thousand words a day is just what I need. It will get me going in the write direction (see what I did there? 🙂 ). I’m behind because I haven’t been sticking to a rigorous schedule. A thousand words a day will help me do that. It will also keep me writing. I have a couple of ideas for new novels, but haven’t written much on them. I think the thousand words a day will put me on track to explore these things, finish Scented and cut the junk out of my day.  When you have a goal and priorities, it’s easy to cut out the stuff that doesn’t meet those goals.

As an author, my top priority is to tell good stories. The best way to do that is to spend time writing them. I think doing the thousand words a day will keep me on track with that, and like Martin, I’ll figure out how to get done the other important things and let the rest fall by the wayside, because they probably weren’t that important to begin with.

Yes, I’ve started in the middle of the year, but that doesn’t bother me. A man who decides he wants to become an architect after spending three years as a mid-level office worker doesn’t not do it just because he didn’t start when most kids did, right after they left college. Once you decide to do something, you just have to start because that’s the only way you’ll ever accomplish it.

I’ve started, and so far, so good. I’ve been doing it for about three weeks now and all I can say, is it’s a good thing. It is harder on the weekends when the kids are clamoring for attention, and I admit I’ve fallen behind a day or two, and had to write two or three thousand words to play catchup. But, I’m caught up. Hopefully the catchup days will be fewer and fewer as I find my rhythm. It helps that I include everything I write (blog posts as well as novels). It’s one reason I’ve blogged once or twice more during the week. I’ve been inspired to write something. In the past, I might have said, jot that down for later. But, now I go ahead and write it, figuring it will help me meet my goal. I’ve also added about 10,000 words to Scented, which is a real help. If I continue at this pace, I’ll actually be able to get Scented out before the year is over (though, that may be literal — think December).

Is anyone else doing the thousand word a day challenge? Have you found it a help or hindrance?

About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at http://rjcrayton.com/subscribe.
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6 Responses to I’m batting a thousand; No, wait, I’m writing a thousand…

  1. Pingback: A million Words in a Year? | RJ Crayton

  2. Melinda Clayton says:

    I decided to do the same thing, RJ, at about the same time – also after reading the IU posts. I made incredible progress the first week, fell off the wagon the second week, and am determined to get back on this week. It’s just too easy to get sucked in to social media, especially when, to some extent, you HAVE to in order to market. But I get so much more done when I focus and stick to my plan.

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Oh, you started it, too. That’s good to know. I agree with you about getting sucked into social media. I picked social media over writing during this vacation, because I can do it in short fits and spurts and it doesn’t require continuous concentration. But, I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things next week. (And I loosely picked it. I’d planned to try to keep writing, but it’s just not working out timewise).

  3. I’m not doing this particular challenge, but I’m in a writing group with some of my friends and we all set monthly goals and check in daily. My daily goal is technically 500 (to allow for that editing word lull you mentioned), but I usually do 1,000+ when I’m not editing and couldn’t recommend it more! I think you’ll be very surprised and pleased at how quickly those words add up. Not to mention how much easier it is to make them happen when you tell yourself you just have to sit there until those 1,000 words are down, by which time it’s easy to get lost in the writing zone.

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Amanda. When you get in the habit, I think it starts to get easier and becomes just part of the norm. I’m having a minor setback because I’m on vacation, and every time I sit down to write in the background (in a room with other people), I get pulled into what’s going on. But, once I get back home, I plan to be more diligent (and it’s not really a vacation if you’re working).

      • Absolutely, soon it will become something that you do automatically, but do wait until your vacation is over. Writing can be so enjoyable that it’s easy to forget that it is a job, and you’re very right that not working is the whole point of a vacation. Have a great one!

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