I am that writer who mostly doesn’t track things.
Beginning last August, I did begin marking days I wrote (or didn’t write) on a calendar, but there is no rule for what constitutes a good day of writing, other than if I felt I did enough to earn a green X on the calendar instead of a red one.
Then, in May, I decided to do my best to track time on the latest novel, just to get a good estimation of how much actual time I spend on all the processes necessary to finish a book. (It remains to be seen if I keep it up.)
And this week, I jumped into Jami Attengberg’s 1,000 Words of Summer writing challenge.
Writing Challenges and Me
It’s not that I’m opposed to writing challenges, but their timing is always off. NaNoWriMo comes along, and friends ask me to join in, but…I’m always working on my own thing that I’m not willing to set aside for a race.
“But you can just apply the word count to what you’re working on,” they say.
It doesn’t work that way for me. I am at a point in this story where 500 good words a day matter more in keeping it all together than 1,666 just to hit a daily number. Some days may be dedicated to research or other things instead of on the manuscript. So, thanks…but no thanks.
In the case of 1,000 Words of Summer, though, it came along at the perfect time. I’ve written a few scenes for the new book, but so much of the last month and a half has been researching and plotting.
I planned to get to writing last week, but when I saw the challenge was starting this week, I decided to rough out a bit more and get moving on Monday. Because here’s the best thing about the 1,000 Days of Summer writing challenge: it’s only fourteen days.
Were it 1,000 words until a book is done, or even 1,000 words for a month or two, I’m not sure I’d have taken part. But 14,000+ new words combined with the almost 6,000 words I already had puts me in a good place to see how the new book feels.
I started work on the new book on the first day of a new job (May 1). It is a contract job and, after accepting it, I found out contractors are not allowed to work on the weeks of major holidays when many take off. So, I will be off the first week of July.
And that works out because I’ve had time to save to make up for no pay that week. It will be a week I can look at the first handful of chapters and polish things.
I know many writers just spew out a first draft without looking back, but that’s never worked for me. I tend to build in chunks, shape things, and then build some more. In many ways, I tend to have a single draft I keep building on and shaping, rather than putting out an ugly draft I do a second pass through…and then a third draft, etc.
And so, because the timing on this writing challenge worked with my schedule — and because it’s only a couple weeks long — I’ve joined in.
I can’t wait until the first week of July to see how it’s all working out.
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Stairs photo: Alessia Cocconi.