Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hitting My Word Count Goal

I bragged a lot on Facebook about how I plunged 12,500 words into my Work In Progress over the weekend.  It wasn't a personal record, at least not quite, but it was a pretty solid weekend of writing.  I did just about 7,000 words on Saturday, and on Sunday I put another 5,500 words into the story before I ran out of ideas for where the story was going to next.

Then, over the next few days, I averaged a mere two hundred words per evening.

What's the difference?  Well, it takes a couple of things to write: time, and stuff to write.  It's that simple.  It doesn't take a particular mood; I've written in good moods and bad, happy moods and sad.  It doesn't take a particular set of any specific physical stuff.  It just takes time.  And, let's not forget, it takes an idea for where you're taking the story.

I didn't have the latter on Monday evening.  I'd spent the time driving to and from work thinking about the next part of the story, but I hadn't come up with anything just yet.  So I sat, and I looked, and I went back to parts I'd already written and made them better.

Eureka! I shouted Tuesday morning.  I figured out how the main conflict was going to work best.  Yay!  Only problem was that the next couple of evenings I didn't get the time.  We had house guests from our old digs in Virginia, and I cherish their company.  So no, no significant amount of writing was accomplished.

They left today.  I got home this evening rarin' to go.  I had the time, and I had an idea where the story was going to go.

Oh, and I had beer.

It doesn't take everybody beer to write, certainly.  But positive reinforcement is one of the keys to any motivational exercise, and I've found beer to be a great self-motivator.  Thus, on the way home I stopped by the store and picked up a couple cans of my favorite stuff.  My favorite stuff that, um, comes in a can, anyway.  Hey, I'm in Tennessee, a state that defines beer as being less than 6% alcohol, which means that the magnificent Belgian ales are right out of consideration.  They can't even cross the state line.

That's okay.  Give me a good lager, canned or bottled, and I'm happy.  As I am now, I should add.

When I got home I sat the beers down beside me and went to work.  First, I closed Facebook after jotting a little note to my friends: "Facebook: I love, love, love you.  But there's a 2000-word-reward beer right over there getting warm, and the scene ain't gonna write itself.  Right?"

Then, I wrote.

The cool thing--well, one cool thing--about Scrivener is that you can set a word count target and then forget it.  It's not like MS Word where you have to keep the starting number in mind.  Whenever you want to know your productivity in Scrivener you just select the menu option for it, and blam!  Up comes a neat little box with a red, orange, yellow, or green bar in it.  Green, in this case, meant that I got to crack open a beer.

Well, I did.  Get the green bar, that is.  And then I wrote a couple hundred more words, just to be on the safe side (and to end in the proper middle of the scene, which is where you want to end if you want to make the next day's writing start more easily).  2,216 words, done.

And then I opened Facebook and crowed about the accomplishment.

The cool thing about doing it that way is that Facebook also has timestamps.  Thus, I could tell that I'd written 2,216 words in--wait for it.

Wait for it.....

Okay, you've waited long enough.  One hour.  Took me one hour of concentrated writing with a beer dangling by my nose to put 2,200 words into the manuscript, thus raising the overall word count to well over 60,000 in this manuscript.

Yes, it helps that I had a beer to look forward to (and boy, is it a'tastin' good right now).  Yes, it helps that long ago I put up with the pain-in-the-tush discipline required to train my fingies to type by touch at nearly 100 words per minute, an ability that now allows me to write pretty much whatever I'm thinking nearly as fast as I'm thinking it without worrying about the mechanics of getting the words into the document.

And, once again I say, I'm proud of my output for the day, and I can go to bed satisfied that I've done what I could to further my efforts as an author.

"Gee," I said to my wife tonight, "I wonder, if I can do twenty-two hundred words in one hour, what I could do writing full-time."

Wishful thinking, that is.  It would take a lot to replace my day job's salary, for one thing, and for another, I love my day job of college dean.  But there's something even more fundamental about how it wouldn't work as a purely multiplicative exercise, and that's the fact that even if I had all the time in the world to write, I'm still limited by the two things I mentioned earlier.  Time, yes, but also knowing where the story is going.  I can only create the story out in my head so far.

So, in the meanwhile, I'll just sit here, sipping my well-earned adult beverage, and in the morning enjoy rising and shining for my day job.  Because it's an awesome job, especially on a Friday.


No comments:

Post a Comment