Let me start by saying I’m not planning to spend every day from now on recording the minutiae of writing a novel. I wanted to hold myself accountable through this blog and that’s the purpose of this post.
A week ago I posted my regimented writing plan. If I stick to that plan, I’m certain to complete at least one draft of 100,000 words in four weeks of writing. If I’m writing…
As I always do when I finish a contract, I wrote up a to do list. A list of all the things I’ve not had time for during the contract. There is always a conflict between what I want to do, what I need to do and what I feel I have to do.
On top of family and work related responsibilities, I spent a large part of Tuesday and Wednesday finishing off a final edit and format of the print edition of Fallen Warriors
Yesterday evening, after two days where I imagined I might plot out two novels – and managed only to begin that process, I put that dream on hold and started writing. This morning I continued writing, reasoning that I might need to explore the characters’ stories further before the overall plot of the book becomes clear.
I wasn’t up this morning as sharp as I wanted though and haven’t kept to my regimented plan. Today I’ve been working on preparing for a meet the author event I’m going to be part of in September. Tomorrow I may have to switch off my phone!
On the positive though, I went for a short run today, my first attempt at exercise in over a month. I wrote 2047 words in 225 minutes spread over the whole day. I’ve developed a new character, well, three of them actually for a story that may run across both sequels.
I’ve failed to meet my target word count, but there’s always tomorrow and each day I write is one day closer to realising my goal of publishing a sequel to Fallen Warriors!
In 2007 I set out to write a novel. I committed to writing 100 words daily and knew if I persevered, I would finish Fallen Warriors in four years. It took ten, but eventually, Fallen Warriors was published.
Small steps, taken daily, lead to long journeys.
Five minutes tidying a room, daily, will gradually clear the clutter.
Ten minutes pulling weeds, daily, tames your garden.
We can all find a few minutes each day to work towards our goals.
Back in 2013 I completed one of the largest projects I’d tackled to date and decided to work out what I’d actually managed to produce during four months developing a complex business application. I realised then that I’d actually produced the equivalent of a book with all the code, queries and user documentation I’d written. That realisation was pivotal in helping me believe I could finish my first novel.
Last week I completed a much smaller project, one that only took 17 days and decided to carry out the same analysis.
The final application had:
12 user forms, each providing a different type of functionality to the users.
3635 lines of code.
13 database tables
57 SQL queries.
28 user guide.
Converting those lines of code into pages, that’s 95 pages, plus effectively 57 pages for the SQL queries and the 28 page user guide. A total of 180 pages, not including the forms or database design. 180 pages equivalent, after editing and testing… A proof read, formatted, final draft…
Divided by number of days on the project, that works out to just over ten pages a day, full time. So, in theory, if I could match that level of output for my fiction writing, I could potentially write a 300 page novel in 30 working days, or in six weeks.
Writing that last sentence, I still find it hard to believe that it’s possible. But, it’s worth noting that I’ve been working as a software developer for 13 years now. Enough time to have honed my skills, to have learned the methods and routines that allow me to tackle complex projects.
If we keep working towards developing our skills and experience in areas we want to improve, we will see progress. Often, there is no substitute for perseverance. For taking the long road, building discipline and habits. This is part of the reason I’ve set myself the challenge of writing at least 100 words a day for 100 days.
What goals do you want to achieve? What skills will you need to achieve them? Will you commit to developing those skills, day in and out? If you do, one day you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come.
Growing up I was taught to look back, to consider what I’d done. My father worked as a printer and I would help him in his printshop. At the end of the day he would take stock of what he had achieved: 5,000 pages numbered; 2,000 sets of carbon sets collated; 500 tickets printed…
He looked at what he had planned to achieve and what he had actually managed to achieve. Comparing those two allowed him to see whether his estimates were accurate or needed refinement, to see whether he needed to charge more for the work he was doing.
It’s a valuable habit to get into. Reflecting on what we planned to achieve against what we actually achieved and then considering whether we should change how we manage ourselves based on that analysis.
As I start writing this post, I’ve yet to write up a formal plan for how I’m going to complete this goal of writing 100 words a day for 100 days.
I feel it will be important to set milestones and at each milestone, review where I’m at. This will give me a shorter timeframe to focus on which will make it easier to keep going. Rather than focusing on the big, impossible 100 day target, I just need to focus on the smaller goal.
25 days may be a good milestone. Breaks the target into four manageable chunks.
Also, I’m already starting to think in terms of weeks. I’m considering making every Friday Flash Fiction Friday. Every Sunday I plan to post about Jesus and faith.
I’ve already realised that I need to be writing two posts on Saturday – one for Sunday and one for Monday so I can take a day off each week.
It does get easier, but it is often hard to imagine that as your first day approaches.
I can understand why some people never even make it into their first day at a new job. Fear of change, fear of commitment, fear of the unknown, of not being up to the task – all of these can contribute to a temptation to quit before even starting.
Yet I know from experience that the act of turning up makes a lot of that fear fade away. Day two is always easier than day one. Day three becomes a little better. Every day you turn up, the fear evaporates a little until turning up becomes the new normal.
And in some situations you can cheat… which is what I’m doing here 🙂
I wrote this post early and indeed am planning to write every day’s post the day before or even earlier if I can. My commitment is to writing 100 words every day. That doesn’t mean I can’t get a drop on tomorrow if I have the chance.
If you are feeling an increasing sense of dread at the thought of taking on a new challenge, it is normal. Hang in there! Every time you face that fear and overcome it, you build a strength to help you overcome the next fear you might face.
Today is day one of my self imposed challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days. Or at least it will be, when today finally arrives… 😉
The goal I set myself
to write 100 words
for 100 days
is one I share with you.
of daily progress
Brick by brick
the house is built.
Drop by drop
a lake is drained.
towards your goal
will take you there.
will train you,
will build discipline,
will give you a sense
will allow you
take longer steps,
walk further each day,
Not only has your goal been achieved
but you as a person
Will you join me
Do you ever find your mind is faster at coming up with suggestions than you’re physically capable of acting on?
It happens to me all the time. This morning I had the brain wave that it might be cool to set myself a goal of blogging 100 words a day for 100 days. Fits in nicely with the theme of the blog: My 100 Goals, and may actually be a useful primer to get myself blogging again.
I’ve some form with 100 words a day goals. After reading 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself back in 2008, I set myself the task of completing my first novel Fallen Warriors within four years by writing a minimum of 100 words a day. Nine years later… Fallen Warriors has been published and quite a lot of those 100 words made it into the final draft.
I know I can write 100 words a day. In fact, I suspect anyone can write 100 words a day. It’s a tiny amount. Just three short paragraphs. In fact – my word count is showing I’m already at 167 words and counting just for this post alone!
The difficulty is not in writing 100 words a day, but in the consistency of the habit. It’s the maintaining the discipline over a long period of time.
And that is one reason I’d really like to take this challenge on – Anything that helps me to build positive habits into my life is a good thing.
When I set out to complete Fallen Warriors back in 2008, I wasn’t able to maintain that daily habit past a couple of months. Yet, I stuck with the writing and am pleased with the result. Even better, readers seem almost as excited as I was with the story!
Why do I want to write 100 words a day for 100 days?
It will get me into the habit of regular blogging.
It will train me to write daily.
It will give me something to Tweet and post on my Facebook page!
It will allow me to start sharing my thoughts again.
It’s a goal connected with 100, which I just love…
What will I need for the journey?
As I kept thinking about 100 words in 100 days, it occurred to me that it would be easier if I broke down that huge number into manageable chunks. Say 10 blog posts on a topic.
Some topic ideas that quickly occurred to me were:
Blogging about goals
Thoughts about God and Jesus and faith
Here are a few more I’ve just thrown in there…
The Great Scottish Land Grab
100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy
Thoughts about our crazy political world
With only a few minutes work, I’ve created a broad outline plan for how I can complete my goal. All I need to do is blog daily on one of these ten topics for 100 words and I’ll complete my goal.
Ideas are mostly fairly easy for me, but the fact is that I can also dry up completely. Perhaps that is writer’s block. It is more likely to happen when I’m over-tired, working too hard, stressed, not exercising…
Setting a 100 day commitment is a commitment to a marathon!
Still, I can jot down ideas as they occur and if on a given day, I’m blank, I can review my high level topics in the hope an idea will occur. And maybe, just maybe, what I really need to do that day is record how I’m feeling and try and work out why.
I know I can commit to and achieve long term goals. I’ve been doing so my whole adult life. What I often struggle with is the daily grind. The temptation to slack off, to leave things for a day which turns into a week, a month, a year. I can’t do that with my day job, but when I’m not being held accountable for achieving goals, it is difficult to maintain that focus and commitment.
I will commit to this goal.
Your support would make a great deal of difference. Commenting on my posts, letting me know what you think would help a lot.
However, I need to be really careful here. My most important supporters are my family and while I’m writing this post in April – I don’t think I should make a commitment to following through with it until late May. Members of my family are going through end of year exams over the next three weeks and so I need to be supporting them, not asking for their support!
So, I’ll make a commitment to starting this goal on 22 May 2017. 100 days later will be 29 August 2017.
I’m not going to write on Sundays. I need a day off each week. So, I’ll aim to write twice as much every Saturday!
And that’s it. I’m going to schedule this to post a week before I’m due to start. I’m going to start jotting down notes and ideas. It would be great to have you join me on the journey and if you’re up for it, join me in taking the 100 words, 100 days challenge too!