Tuesday, August 14, 2012

100 Words a Day

Well, time has certainly gotten away from me this year, and here we are in August already!

Writing-wise, what have I been up to?  I've been primarily working on non-fiction, but I have also completed a new short story that I'll be submitting to various places for potential publication soon.  I should have the last polishing done no later than Sunday.

Aside from writing, I've been doing contract work for my husband's company, building wired adapters for injectors.  I've also taken up archery.

Each day is just a series of choices, really, and that pertains to writing as much as to anything else.  Work, of course, is rarely much of a choice; it must be done.  But what about the work of one's heart--the work that doesn't necessarily bring in much money?  At the end of a long day of working with my hands, I've also tried typing for three hours, and have learned that there are limits to what my muscles can endure.  However, if I could just do 100 words, that would be far, far better than nothing.

I agreed with my critique partners that I'd do that much, at least.  If you're writing short stories, 100 words a day will lead to a new story on a regular basis, as most places prefer stories 4000 words or less, and many places would be happier with 3000 or less.

Problem: I can't easily write a short story of less than 3000 words.  I've tried, and found that I have enough plot that to do less than 3000 just wouldn't serve to tell the story properly.  Even with everything trimmed and shaved, sentences tightened as much as possible, my stories all seem to want to be between 4000 and 4500 words in length.  Nevertheless, even at roughly 4000 words in total length, that 100 words a day would indeed net me many more short stories per year.  1000 words a day would get me a novel in just 100 days, but let's say I halved that figure and got 500 words a day.  In 200 days, that's a novel, and easily fits into the ideal framework of one novel a year, plus a novella or several short stories.

When you think of it like that, it's not all that daunting, really.  It's just a matter of doing that 100 to 500 words.

I've talked myself into it.  It's just like with archery practice the other night, when I decided that as soon as I put all of my arrows into the target, I could stop for the night.  No matter how many shots that took, as soon as each arrow went into the target, it could stay there.  If I had to retrieve it from the grassy slope, then it had to be shot again.

I don't know how many shots I took before all six arrows were sticking out of the target, but it was a lot more than six shots total.  Nevertheless, I stuck with it until they were all in the target.  And one of those arrows was in the center--a bullseye.  I can't help but think that's a good analogy, except for the part where I quit for the night at the end.  Otherwise, it's great.  Fire enough stories out into the world, and keep putting them out there, and eventually one will hit the bullseye.

After that, the next logical step is to write new stories and start the process over again, until the next bullseye.  And all that sustained effort would take is just 100 words a day.