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?