Thursday, January 4, 2007

100 words a day

Yes, that's right folks. That wasn't a typo, I'm advocating consistent mediocrity...betcha you can't do it. I will bet you that you can't write just 100 words. This could be a writing slogan to rival the “betcha bite a chip” Chips Ahoy cookie slogan.

On another blog I frequent and comment way too verbosely on, a fellow commenter mentioned that she writes 100 words a day. She got the '100 a day' concept from Jody Wallace, article here: article link

Now she doesn't stop at this point, but continues on usually, but the goal is 100 words and I thought it was a wonderful idea. (So far this blog post is 108 words.)

This same method is often used for exercisers. When I first started working out I was told to just plan on exercising for five minutes, then if I felt like stopping, I should go ahead. Of course the trick is...once you get to five minutes, you've gotten into the groove normally and you keep going.

So the same idea applies to writing. I would recommend the book Making a Literary Life by Caroline See, to anyone serious about creating a regular writing practice. She suggests writing a thousand words a day, every day.

When I set a goal normally I set a thousand words. For nanowrimo last year I set 3k a day because that was what I needed to reach my 90k goal that month. However...I can see the value in setting a ridiculously low goal. The higher the goal, the more daunting.

Some days a thousand words a day seems really hard, even though I can knock it out usually in an hour or less if I'm working on a rough draft of something. But there are days when that seems like a lot.

So then how about 100 words a day? Because really...once you sit down and write a hundred words (we're talking about approximately 2 good paragraphs here), you're probably in your groove.

If for some reason you get to a hundred and aren't feeling it that day, stop if you want. If a thousand sounds like too high to set the bar and 100 sounds like too low go for a different number. Maybe 250 is where you really start to hit your stride. Go for 250 and then see how you feel about it.

The point is...write something and do so regularly. Let's say you really did ONLY write 100 words a day, just for the sake of argument let's say you never hit a stride after that and always stopped right at 100. (We also have to assume you are completely insane.) Let's also assume you take off two days a week for the weekend, or whatever two days you choose if weekends are big writing days for you. (Not that you're really going to need a big break from writing just 100 words a day.)

So that's 261 days of writing. That's 26,100 words, a very short novella. But it's something. Or it could be about 2-6 short stories. Consistency is key and it adds up. No one will really write just a hundred words a day every day.

If you have that passion and drive to write you'll do it, unless you're a masochist or something. Then you'll hit your stride wherever you hit it, hopefully by 100 words in, and you'll keep churning the words out until you get to a number that's generally comfortable to you whether that's a thousand words or some other randomly chosen magical number.

So this blog is 600 words. I get 5 days off now, right? Just kidding. Jeez, take a pill or something.


Michelle said...

I started writing every day a couple of months back. Right now, to get my WIP out (an agent is actually WAITING for it, LOL) I'm aiming for 9 pages a day, but my natural stride is about 5 pages a day. I'm hoping the 9 pages a day over a couple of weeks will help make THAT my new natural stride.

Zoe Winters said...

Cool on the agent thing, but also eek stressful. Heh I usually go with word count instead of page numbers. I don't know why, it's some psychological payoff I'm sure. A thousand words just sounds more impressive than 5 pages. Although when you speak in pages nonwriters know how much you wrote. I told someone I wrote a 93,000 word manuscript and they couldn't conceptualize it until I gave them an approximate page count.

Michelle said...

I used to work in word count too, but I changed to page count because all my crit partners were page count girls and I got into the habit of it :)

Zoe Winters said...

hehehe. peer pressure sucks ;)

Kate S said...

Well, I had just commented on your blog, but it looks like blogger ate it - and it was 80 words total too!

On the upside - I just made my 100 word quota - thanks, Zoe! lol

Great advice.

Edie said...

Zoe, I'm revising now, so I'm using 4 hours a weekday. When I write first drafts, I use pages. I'm Michelle's CP, lol.

I'm not making my 4 hours today, but I am making good progress and I sent 3 chapters to my CPs.

Zoe Winters said...

Thanks for commenting Kate!

And Edie, wow, 4 hours of revision. Do you do that straight or take breaks?

Edie said...

Zoe, I take breaks. Too many, lol. I've revised as long as I could, and now I have to gut and write a whole new middle. Next week I'm going to pages again, 50 a week.