Home > Reportage > A whole bunch ‘o numbers for September

A whole bunch ‘o numbers for September

After a lackluster August as far as word count went [1], I was a little worried that I might be weakening as we enter autumn. Fortunately, there were no missed days or aborted stories, so hurray right there. One thing that has helped is that I’ve started entering the writing contests over at Worth1000.com, a site where creative people of all types can challenge themselves and each other. So far, I’m doing well – two golds and two silvers, which is nice for a debut month. Or so I’d like to think.

Anyway, here’s how September worked out, numbers-wise: 43,448 words, for an average of 1,448 words per story – coming ever-closer to that 50,000 mark! Still not as close as I came in July, though, so it’s still something to work on. The grand total so far is 167,631 words, which sounds ridiculous when I think about it….

This wasn’t an easy month, for a variety of reasons. We’re getting to the end of the semester at work, and that’s always a little frantic, not to mention that after 132 days, I’m starting to get those flashes of “I have nothing more to say!”

The Gap, in other words.

And the only thing to do is to keep going. The way I see it, this project serves many goals:

  • It teaches persistence. That there will be writing every day and that’s just the way it is. It’s the process of training one’s muse, as Stephen King referred to it. His view is that a muse is a picky and fickle thing, one which doesn’t come just because you call it. You must convince it that you’re worthy of its attentions, and that means doing a lot of hard work.
  • As long we we’re gleaning wisdom from our betters, I heard Louis CK talk about the most important lesson he learned from George Carlin. Now it’s about comedy, of course, but I think it can apply to any creative endeavor: Do your thing, make whatever it is you’re making, and then clear the slate and start over again. Once you’re done, you’re done. Do something new. What I’m doing now is kind of a very short version of that, but it’s very good advice. Don’t let yourself get stuck in something, even if you think it’s really good.
  • It helps clear out crappy ideas. Hopefully I’ll be able to look at a lot of these and just say, “No, that’s not going to work.”
  • On the other hand, it helps reveal some really interesting ideas. When the year is up, I’m going to have some good worlds and characters that I can play with and explore in more depth and with more seriousness. Not to get ahead of myself or anything (perish the thought), but I think some of them could be very nearly publishable. If I get them right, that is.
  • I’m finding new sources of inspiration – the Worth1000 contests, stories from words, character interviews, that kind of thing. And sometimes just taking a normal situation and asking, “How can this be made un-normal?”
  • I need to work more on getting into characters’ heads and giving the readers something to latch onto. Still not quite there yet, but I suspect that’s a side-effect of not spending so much time with them.

So there we go – another month down. I try not to think of how much more is left, because that’d scare the crap outta me.

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[1] Although as far as actual stories went, I wrote a lot that I put into the “My Favorites” category. Go figure.

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