In 2017 I want to achieve what I haven’t previously achieved: write a thousand words a day.
Not because I want to be able to say I’ve written 365,000 words by the end of the year, but because I want to form a habit.
I write. I’ve written ever since I was a young child. I’ve always made up stories. Written poems. Short stories. Even an attempt at a novel when I was 15. At the same time I also don’t write. Instead I procrastinate. Either I do all the other things on my to-do list that day before writing fiction (like this blog post), then proclaim, I’ve been productive and now it’s too late to start writing and in the end I don’t even try. Or I actually do find myself in front of my computer and instead of writing fiction, I stare at a blank page.
It’s not good anyway, so why bother? It’s hogwash. It’s not a good story. Not good prose. There’s no tension. I’ll never get really good at this writing thing anyway. It’s wasted time.
So. Why. Bother.
Sometimes inspiration hits. I produce a short story. It’s not too bad, I think. I give it to others to read. They agree. The next day I stare at a blank page yet again.
The blank page makes me want to curl up in a corner of my office and weep.
Sometimes I write a sentence. Then another. Then I read it and think: dude, I hate being honest, but you suck.
Why bother? Why bother writing a lot of unpublishable material. A big pile of shit that stinks to the heavens. It’s just a waste of time.
Except it isn’t.
It’s the 6th January 2017 and I haven’t yet written my 1000 words of the day. Instead I’ve written a book related blog post, I’ve reviewed a book on Goodreads and I’m writing this post. I’ve also walked the dogs. Had a nap. And read 5 chapters of a book on my reading list (hoping it would inspire me. It didn’t.)
All of that because I’m afraid of producing bad prose.
My girlfriend is currently learning how to draw. Does anyone actually think her first sketch of our dog ended up looking any good? (It really didn’t.) Would you be surprised if I told you, that the second sketch was just as bad as the first? No, of course not. Practice. Practice. Practice. Only she never attempted to draw the damn dog again, because she thought she’s kind of bad at drawing.
Of course she is. She only JUST started drawing.
I played the violin as a child. I really hope no one expected me to be any good at playing a violin concerto by Vivaldi when I was 7. There was a lot of screeching going on in our house before my violin sounded like a proper instrument.
The same goes for a writer’s craft. Practice. And sometimes the words you just wrote will be of no use. Almost every time they’ll have to be edited. But you’ll get better.
This year I want to form a habit. A habit of writing every day. Strengthening my muscles. Losing the fear of the empty page. I would like my brain to know that when I sit down in front of an empty page, I want the page to be filled before I get up again.
And I’m hoping it’ll get easier with time. I’m hoping I’ll get to the stage where my fingers will itch for that moment when I get to sit down.
I want to look forward to writing. Not dread it.
Some of you might wonder, why do it if I dread it? Simple. Because I used to love it. Back when it was just a hobby, I loved writing. I’d sit down at random times every day and write. I couldn’t wait to get home and write.
Then I decided I want to get serious about this hobby of mine. Get something published. And I started to send stories out to magazines. I started to submit.
That’s the moment the self doubt started.
Of course, the start to this exercise was the 1st January 2017 and with it came the realisation that it was a Sunday. Really? On a Sunday? I have to write as well? Yes, yes, dude, I’m sorry for having to be honest, but you do.
See you next week,
Jinn is doing the same thing. His first post can be found here.