#WIP500

Confession: Until this past Sunday, it had been nearly a year since I wrote a word of original fiction.

Not that I was busy writing a pile of un-original fiction! I just wasn’t writing. I exercised, went to work, cleaned my house, walked my dogs, got Stolen Climates prepped for publication, and inexplicably dug up a large swath of my front yard, but I didn’t write.

When I don’t do something for a long time, even if it is something I love, I get nervous. I find reasons to stall. All sorts of things start to fill the time that used to be dedicated to whatever it is I’m avoiding. To get out of my own self-defeating cycle of avoidance and kick-start my second novel, I joined the Twitter #WIP500 group.  #WIP500 is a group of writers, each of whom has pledged to write a daily word count of 500 or more on a work in progress (WIP). Since I seem to be in the mood for confession, I may as well admit I have never tried a word count approach to my writing. I just wrote until I finished. Or until the dogs annoyed me too much. Or until I got scared of what I was saying. Or until I felt like it’d be better to go for a cupcake run (it happens!). Writing until you’re done works, but the finish date is unpredictable. No one can give a reliable estimate of how long a task will take if there are no parameters around the frequency or duration of the time to be spent working.

Many aspects of publication scare me. There’s the fear that someone will rip me a new one in an Amazon review. There’s the fear that critic will be right. I’m afraid people I know and love might not like the book. I might miss the boat with my marketing and the book will not find any readers. Worse, Stolen Climates gets a readership, but I don’t have another book ready to publish for years. By then, people will have forgotten me and I will have to start all over building readership with the next novel. What I do have control over, though, is whether or not I have another novel ready to publish within the year.

The sense of accountability that comes with joining the #WIP500 group has made me do what I haven’t done in almost a year: write new prose.  I refuse to be that person who signs up but doesn’t deliver. I have a goal and now I also have a reasonable way to predict how close I am to meeting that goal.

It feels amazing to be writing! Blaze McRob has stated that “writing is the most fun he can have with his clothes on.”  I agree and I cannot imagine how it was I forgot the feeling of right-ness that comes from creating.  After my second writing session, Mr. Aniko said, “You’re beaming in a way you haven’t in months!” I was beaming and, if you must know, sweating slightly. The sweat was more from the fact we were walking the dogs and I was dressed for Winter (it is January!) and the temperature was a balmy 80! The important thing to note here is that the beaming was entirely due to the writing.

Although the #WIP500 goes all year, my goal is to complete an 80,000 word novel by the end of April. Here’s my progress thus far:

4935 / 80000 words. 6% done!

Fellow #WIP500ers, feel free to chime in with your experiences! I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has tried writing by word count or with a specific deadline in mind. Does it work for you?

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9 thoughts on “#WIP500

  1. This is also the first time I’ve joined a goal focused writing group, and I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. Just a week into #WIP500 has proven to be a tremendously rewarding experience. It feels great to be writing again.

    Cheers!

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  2. Hmm. Interesting concept. I’ve seen this with NaNoWriMo, obviously, but never considered it outside of November (although I know many writers who do). For me, I give myself a time limit to sit at the computer (and stay there, even if nothing is happening). I can’t imagine forcing words (unless you use your daily word count towards working on something else, like a flash fiction piece, just to keep new words coming). Seems like you could end up with a bunch of crap that will have to be edited out later or that might take you in the wrong direction just so you have your daily word count. That sounds painful as a writer. While I don’t believe the first draft should have every word sweated over ala Hemingway, I do believe they should be at least thought out. Did you ever read my post on beating writer’s block? I talk more about the time mgmt side of things there:

    http://pauldail.com/2011/10/07/five-tips-to-beat-the-block-writers-block-that-is/

    And I can completely understand your fear of losing readership. I know my next novel won’t be ready for probably realistically at least two to three years, but I’m going to put a little faith that by then I’ll still be gathering steam for The Imaginings. And if, not, at least I will have gone through the experience of gathering readers this time, and hopefully it will be a little easier (or at least familiar).

    More than anything, I’m glad to hear that you are beaming now that you are writing. I understand that, too. And if a word count makes that happen, don’t let this curmudgeon keep you away from it.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

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    • You curmudgeon, you! Bringing up valid opposition to the word count scheme! And making sense, shame on you!

      *grins*

      I was never a word counter. Like you, I felt that imposing some daily minimum would cause me to force words rather than let them flow. I think that at most points in my writing life, that would have been the case. The difference this time, for me, is that I’ve had this entire novel in my mind for over a year. The little paper notebook with key scenes jotted down in sloppy hurry and the stack of books I read in preparation for writing this story have been gathering dust for months as I debated whether or not I wanted to write at all, ever. I don’t think the word count approach would work if I didn’t already know what I wanted to write. I haven’t shared this with the #WIP500ers, but I suspect that when the first draft of my novel is complete, I will no longer be sticking to the rigorous daily writing. I’ll need at least a couple of weeks to “get over” the novel enough to begin the slash-and-burn that is revision. I’ll need another couple of months to get that even close to right, and then it will be several more passes through beta readers, editor, husband… In short, I am with you that word counts could lead to a lot of wasted writing. However, I think that’s really only a danger if you don’t already know what you’re writing towards.

      I’m going to check out the link you included, but I have to get ready to go to work (the work that pays me, I mean!).

      Thanks for stopping by & providing a counterpoint!

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  3. I find that if I’m stumped for a scene while working through my #WIP500, I will jump in one of the rounds (or two or three) of #wordmongering. I love the idea of writing for thirty minutes then taking a break…

    I’ve been amazed at the productivity on other things I’ve needed to get finished, plus, if I’m stumped, I can usually think about the problem and hit the solution before my next round of #wordmongering. Usually, LOL

    Anyway, my WIP are actually 4-fold i have a series of about 30 or so novel-sized stories that all belong to the same storyline. I have a total rewrite that will turn into a trilogy when finished. I have a post apoc where most of the human have died and robots run the world. And my last current (thought there are many more in the wings) is a what if of surviving the end of the movie The Knowing.

    Anyway, thanks for the post!

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    • I’ve never tried #wordmongering, but it sounds like it could be fun. Also fun are the WIPs you describe! I wish you luck with all of them and, if you’re planning on publishing, hope to read them someday.

      I agree that taking a break from something where you are blocked normally results in the solution appearing when you least expect it. It’s almost as if the idea was there all along, just shy and hiding behind a bunch of other distractions. Exercise, going to my office job (!), and reading random things seem to help me past roadblocks the fastest.

      Thanks for your comments & hope you have a great day!

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  4. Pingback: Updates & To Dos « Aniko Carmean

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