Following the publication of my novel, Daughter of Atlas, I’ve started working on a new project. It is a solarpunk novella for a shared world anthology, with a couple friends. I have been working on it pretty consistently, and I feel pretty good about it.
I write 500 words a day.
I’ve always struggled with writing consistently. Indeed, I stopped writing at all for almost ten years. I was feeling too burned out and beaten down. So I know I won’t ever be able to make a paying career out of this, but that’s okay. I’ve started again, that’s the thing.
But even in my not-writingest periods, I’ve always known that you need to write every day to make a go of it. And not just dicking around in your journal, either. You need to write something that you hope or intend for people to read, every day, to produce work and to improve.
It is only now that I have come to do that. Write every day. I want to now, like I didn’t want to before. (The book The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield helped me understand my not-wanting, and confront it. I recommend it.) And the amount that I’m writing is 500 words.
So far, it’s working for me, because it’s such a small amount. One page. It is extremely hard to talk myself out of writing it. It would be embarrassing. 500 words. Come on, man. Embarrassing to not write it. One page. Hard to rationalize blowing off a single page. That’s the key, so far. That’s what’s working for me.
To be honest, I don’t write every day. I write in the evenings, because I’m just not a morning person. And I close at work one day a week, so I don’t get home until late. I usually don’t write then. And my writer’s workshop is on Thursdays, and then I don’t get home until almost ten. No writing then.
But I write most nights. And every night that I do, I have 500 words more than I did the night before. It’s good enough. Far better than all the many nights when I had no words. 300 nights of 500 words makes a novel. How do you eat an elephant? One 500-word bite at a time.