Short story. Over the early pandemic I joined a writing group to produce one of the many, many, many lockdown novels that were created during that time frame. I started it as a part of the NaNoWriMo challenge (writing 50,000 words in November) and eventually self-published the final version on Kindle six months later.
In order to complete the challenge you have to write around 1667 words per day. Some can stick to it, some start slow and then write in bulk near the end, some do the opposite and some give up.
Did I stick to 1667 words per day? Of course not.
Below is my daily word tally for the rough draft. The lowest days are around 400 words and one of the highest is around 4000.
I did the challenge a second time a month later, in order to complete the rewrite, this was the world tally.
Definitely a larger range of highs and lows and some days I didn’t write a single word. However, I know that every day I at least opened my laptop and looked.
Before the writing group started the challenge, there was an initial meeting to discuss strategies and share tips and tricks. Something someone said stuck out to me. This person talked about how they’d started exercising and how trying to stick to the writing challenge felt similar.
They had an exercise schedule that they committed to doing every day, there were some days they could push themselves to go further, some days where they’d do less and some days where they wouldn’t do anything at all.
However, no matter what they would at least stand on the mat. That’s it. They’d get the mat out, stand on it and then put the mat away. It allowed them not to lose the habit of the routine. Even if they weren’t initially feeling it, just by getting on the mat, it sometimes motivated them to do something and even if it didn’t, at least they got on the mat.
They wouldn’t focus on trying to hit the goal of 1667 words every day, they’d do what they could.
I carried that with me during the challenge and there were days where I wasn’t feeling it, but by at least opening a new chapter or looking at an old one, as I did every day, sometimes I’d be able to just start writing. And even when I didn't, that'd be ok too, since I knew I’d be back tomorrow.
Obviously, my current goal of writing an article once per week is a lot less strenuous. It's a goal I’ll stick to until the next one comes along. Some days I open my word processor, pop in a title and then think, “nah”. Then the next day I do the same thing and I can put together something new. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes I write a little, sometimes I write nothing at all.
Anyway, that’s kind of what spawned this article. It wasn’t the one I wanted to write this week, but I couldn’t think of the words for that one. Perhaps I will the next week, or the week after, or maybe I’ll never think of them at all. However, popping something like this down allowed me to stick with the habit.
Now, I don’t know if I’ll ever publish a blank article…
But yea. This is me, getting on the mat.