One Thousand Words a Day

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Perhaps you’re like me and you’ve read and taken to heart the advice to write a thousand words a day. It is sound advice if it keeps you on track. And perhaps if you’re also like me there are days when the words flow and fifteen hundred words pour like water. Or even better, there are those days that I achieve two thousand words and feel like I’m on top of the world. Then the next day (like this morning),  I awaken with the pure intent to cast another day like the one before, but instead of words flowing from the tap of my subconscious, I just can’t get that dream out of my head–the one where I’m talking to Tom Hardy. Did I get his name right? I can see him in my mind’s eye, playing the role of the despicable Bill Sikes in the 2007 BBC production of Oliver Twist. And what romance fan could forget him as the tormented Heathcliff in BBC’s Wuthering Heights? Then just for fun I look up a picture of him, you know, just to see what he looks like this year. Then a half-hour later, a large portion of my writing time (first thing in the morning) has been wasted. Well, not wasted. But not used to actually write. I know, I know, I could just make an agreement with myself not to turn on the internet. And for the most part, I don’t. My laptop is not connected–ever. But there are those times when Google is necessary, like for this post, to get my facts straight about one of my favorite British actors, so I reach for my iPod. Sometimes on days like this, I just need to read a few pages out of a writing how-to book to get my creative juices flowing or look through my writing notebook (a new graphic organizer perhaps?) But this morning, nothing worked. I wasn’t going to write. It wasn’t going to happen. On days like this, that I’m sure every writer faces, whether you’ve got great self-control or not, there are and will always be those times when you’re not going to reach your goal of one thousand words. And you know what? That’s okay. Each day is different. Some days are all business–my inbox is clean, my outbox is full, bills are paid, dinner is on the table. But inevitably, life is flux. Some days are more introspective. And if we lament the days that we’re not on top of our numbers, we might miss an opportunity to learn a little bit more about our craft (eg. cozy mysteries, like me). We could use our time to look into our self-editing book and make sure that using third person internal dialogue is appropriate in a third person narrative. (It is, and it avoids confusion.) So the next time I have a morning like this morning, I will not berate myself for the rest of the day. So what if my word count only moved up by twenty-five or not at all? At least I switched on my laptop. At least I sat in front of it and thought about my story. I even learned a little something. I grew a little more as a writer. And isn’t that a great goal for each and every day?

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