I have been on such a writing streak for the last week that I’m honestly afraid of what happens when it ends. I haven’t been this productive since college – when I was sitting through lectures on literature and secretly writing scenes for my YA book instead of taking notes. Class was great for my productivity, largely because for some reason unknown to me, I get my best inspiration when I’m supposed to be doing something else, like listening. (I wrote a ton of fan fiction during high school. Literally, during it.)
It’s a lot harder to motivate myself; lots of writers share my pain. Which is one of the reasons every November is National Novel Writing Month (though by now, it should probably be International; InNoWriMo isn’t as catchy.) For several years in a row, I tried the great experiment and fell short every single time. By a lot. November, I decided, was a terrible month to try and write a novel. Between finals, and my birthday, Thanksgiving, and the fact that I always got sick at some point, churning out 1667 words a day for 30 days just never happened. I always started out strong, but never crossed the finish line.
Lately I’ve been thinking that since I’m unemployed, I really have no excuse for not getting my writing done – aside from the depression writers refer to as ‘the block.’ Which is really not so much about a lack of ability as it is a lack of confidence. Many writers have a definition for writers block that boils down to ‘it’s not real.’ But I think writers block is legitimate – it’s just not a stoppage of creativity. It’s a wet blanket and devil on the shoulder, a voice suggesting that maybe you’re wasting your time, maybe you’re kidding yourself. If you’re sensitive to depression, it can be a tough thing to wrestle with. I go through it a lot, and it comes in waves. Life is frustrating, and some times the frustration builds up like a dam, and I wonder, why bother?
I wish there was an easy way to blow up that dam, to just move on, but sometimes you just have to let it erode naturally, to continue this badly constructed metaphor. Having recently come up from one of those grey times, I decided to challenge myself, instead of waiting for someone or something else to do it. And I discovered that my favorite writing program Scrivener has a ‘project target’ counter which allows me to set daily word goals.
And I say, why limit it to 30 days? In the hopes of keeping those grey days away, I’m aiming for 1667 words a day until I’m done. Some days I don’t meet that goal. Some days I do, and some days I write more. I like watching the counter go up, knowing that the book I’m crafting is coming together word by word. Sometimes it seems really slow, but if 1667 words a day means 50,000 words in a month, and I don’t stop, then the time will fly, and hopefully, by the end of the summer, I’ll have a manuscript.