Chasing Inspiration

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Every Little Bit Counts

I belong to an email loop for my writer's group called Club 100. It sounds really elite doesn't it? Brings up visions of authors who have written 100+ books, right?

Trust me, it's nothing as glamorous as that. And if it were, I definitely wouldn't be on the list. I've written exactly 6 manuscripts and none of them are published. Or apparently publishable in their current incarnations. Which is fine. I've learned a lot from writing these books and I wouldn't trade the lessons of experience for anything.

Club 100 is a motivational email loop. The original goal of the group was for everyone to write 100 words a day. There is some solid rationale behind this goal. First, you are writing every day. The only way to finish a manuscript is to write. There are no short cuts. You must write that book in order for it to exist.

By writing daily you are building a habit. It's hard to sit in that chair and stare and the page or computer screen until intelligent words spill forth. But the more you write, and the more consistent you are with time and place, the easier it is to sit down and immediately shift from the worries of the day job, family, money, etc. to the story. This is an important lesson and one that took me years to learn. Now that I write daily I find I waste little time on trying to put myself in the story. Amazing!

By making a goal of 100 words you are taking what may be 400 plus pages and breaking it down into less intimidating numbers. As with any large project, a person can be overwhelmed when they focus on that end number. Then the negative self-talk and doubt creeps in. "400 pages? I can't write 400 pages! What the hell was I thinking? That's it, I'm packing up my toys and going home."

That type of self-talk is what keeps a lot of people from finishing. And without that finished manuscript, there is no chance of becoming a published author. Ever. But, if your daily goal is 100 words, and you consider that 100 words is less than one manuscript page, suddenly that book becomes a lot of little, bite sized goals that don't look so scary.

Here's the coolest thing about being part of Club 100. I started out with a 100-words-a-day goal and in the last 6 months I've been able to write 3 pages in the same hour that it used to take me to write 100 words! I'm hoping that over the next few months I'll be able to increase that to 5+ pages.

If you're an aspiring author of anything - journal article, non-fiction book on the zeitgeist of morality and higher education, or commercial fiction - this methodology of building the writing habit and breaking down the whole of your manuscript into small, daily goals will take you far.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:59 AM

    You are right, Naomi! I'm a list person. When I make a list of daily goals I want to get accomplished, I seem to get so much more done during the day. I can see how a daily goal of 100 words can help aspiring writers and published authors meet their overall goal. Did you know it only takes about six weeks to make or break a habit? After that it gets easier. ~ AL (from the JMBB)

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  2. I studied habits during my masters degree in psychology and the 6 weeks is a general rule. However, breaking a habit can take longer depending on the emotional or physical attachment to the habit. Habits are definately something that intrigue me. *grin*

    Lists are good too, if you remember to look at them. And if you don't feel paralyzed by the fact that your list isn't totally completed at the end of the day. But they are a great, simple way of starting to create and name your goals. And we both know how important goals are!

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