Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Word Count Wednesday

So, how's everybody doing with 40 Bags in 40 Days? Yeah, me neither. With only a few weeks remaining until Easter, I'm less than halfway to my goal. But you know what? I've made progress. And I'm not giving up yet.

This is a theme in my writing as well. I set goals. Sometimes I make them. Often, I don't. But by continuing to strive toward those goals, I make progress, and even small successes add up over time.

A few summers ago, fellow writer Rachel Neal challenged herself to write 30,000 words in the month of June. When she invited a crew of other crazy scribes to join her in meeting that goal, I was in.

Despite the fact that it was probably the worst time of year for me to take on such a challenge, I made my goal. I rewarded myself with a movie and the leather Pandora bracelet I'd been eyeing.

I was putting on that Pandora bracelet (which I christened my "writing bracelet") the other day when I remembered the challenge and wondered if, perhaps, it was time for another one. I have several writing projects in the works, and I seem to be revving my engine, but going nowhere fast.

In case my Lenten resolution not to take on any new commitments didn't give you a heads up, let me tell you that I'm an "anything's possible!" kind of girl. But I made that resolution because I'd already said yes to too many possibilities -- what kind of challenge could I set without losing my mind in the process?

When I teach writing classes to adults, I begin each session by asking, "what have you done for your writing this week?" Any success -- no matter how small -- is acknowledged and celebrated because small successes pave the way for larger ones. While half an hour of writing may be a baby step for an unemployed high school student on summer vacation, it's a giant step for a busy mom who works full time and has a house to take care of.
And therein lay the answer to my dilemma. I didn't need to aim for a random number that I would quite possibly miss, leaving myself feeling defeated in the process. And I certainly didn't need another challenge that measured my success numerically. I simply needed to recognize that success is where I find it.

And so rather than aiming for 30,000 words -- or any specific number, for that matter -- in April, I'm going to make April the month of Word Count Wednesdays. I am simply going to keep track of how many words I write, much as I used to do when was working full time and writing in the nooks and crannies of my days. Honestly, I have no idea how many words I write in a week, let alone a month, but I'm anxious to find out.

Here are my (personal) rules:

  • Anything that's part of my writing pursuits counts. Books, blogs, articles, promotional work -- all of it. I'm going to keep a two column sheet with the title of the "work" in one column (e.g. blog) and the  number of words written on that project in the other.
  • I will also include necessary time hogs on my list -- those things that involve words but that I don't count as "writing" (e.g. creating an assignment for a class) -- that's what the left hand column is for. Seeing those on the page will help me to put less-than-ideal word counts into perspective.
  • Blogs count, but e-mails don't -- unless they meet the criteria in the first bullet above. But I might write them down in the left-hand column anyway just to make myself feel better.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out. I'm hoping that it's just the nudge I need to edge me over the starting line and into the race. Who knows, maybe I'll even get caught up on those promised guest blogs, or better yet, begin some new habits that keep me circling the track.

And since it's no fun circling the track alone, I'd like to invite you to join me. Track your writing progress and join me here on Wednesdays in April to post your progress in the comments on Word Count Wednesdays.

Who knows? Maybe we'll be like bumper cars at the beach, nudging each other all over the place and having a great time doing it.

By the way, thanks to this blog, today's word count is 751.

So far.

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