10,000 Word Writing Challenge: Week 1

10,000 Word Writing Challenge: Week 1

So It’s been a week, and as promised, I’m checking in with my first update.  Things didn’t go as well as I would have liked. My first two days went well: I was over quota both days, which meant the benchmark I needed to hit per day actually went down.  However, the 4th of July was in the middle of the week and that threw off any hope I had of achieving a rhythm.

I didn’t write for the next three days after that, but today and yesterday, I’ve been good.  Currently, I have to hit a daily writing goal of 359 words a day, which is higher than when I started.

What have I learned so far?

This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be and I thought I was going to be hard. One of the things I started this week was a new short story and it is taking me a lot longer in each writing session to hit my quota.  In the few times I’ve worked on the project, it took me the better part of an hour to get to around 350 words.  This is probably because I haven’t written any fiction in about a year and I’m really out of practice. That said, I don’t automatically hate everything I’ve written, which is nice.

I’ve also noticed that changing gears is hard for me.  One of the other projects I’m working in is a computer program to help me set up a media sever, and I’ve noticed that once I start coding, the last thing I want to do is stop and start writing fiction. Conversely, I can’t go right back to coding after I’ve written.  So while I’ve always been good about having hobbies for both parts of my brain, I can move between them that quickly.

That coding project is starting to wind down, which should allow me to focus on writing.  It’s good to know for the future, however, that I have have to be better about blocking out time between these two things and not just assume I can jump between them with ease.

How am I pushing through hurdles?

The thing I like about writing challenges is that they are almost all marathons and not sprints. Finding time to puzzle writing into my life on a consistent basis is one of the things I find the most difficult, and I’m using challenges like this as a way to force myself to create tools and methodologies that will help me keep creative writing as a part of who I am on a daily basis.

One of the strategies that seems to be working is the actual tracking of what I’m doing each day.  I’ve created a spreadsheet that tracks how much I’m writing each day and updates my per day quota dynamically. I find myself really looking forward to putting in my word count each day to watch the numbers move.  This being an Excel spreadsheet, I of course, have a graph that goes up and down with each new data point.

The data tracking is a double-edged sword.  While it does track my progress, it’s also a really good record of my failures.  Seeing those three “empty days” build up was pretty demoralizing and it made it harder to jump back into a writing project that I was struggling with anyway. That’s something to really watch out for as this month unfolds.

All in all, how do I feel about it?

Pretty good so far.  It feels really great to be working on fiction again.  As I mentioned above, I’m starting build strategies to keep working consistently and that’s really the whole point of this.

Anyway, that’s how the first week went.  Now it’s time to dump the word count for this post into my spreadsheet and keep on working.  See you all next Sunday.

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