A Year of Writing Challenges

So if you’ve noticed my little blog at all before, you’ll have seen my daily ramblings about my writing progress and writing life. I’ve been avoiding an explanation of what exactly I’m up to, in anticipation of this post.

I wrote two weeks ago about writing tips, and mentioned that writing daily is one of the best things you can do for your craft. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Go to a cafe or stay home. Set a progress goal or schedule a block of time. Whatever works for you. As long as you do it.

What I’ve been trying for the last year started as a spur-of-the-moment thing. I was attempting NaNo this past November. As usual, I was falling behind with my word count. (I work retail. November is a rough time of year for retail employee.) So I decided that even if I didn’t hit 50k, I wasn’t going to give up halfway through the month. Because that’s what I always do. So as long as I write at least a few words every day for the entire month, I was going to count it as a win. As progress.

As November came to an end, I was succeeding. And I wanted to push harder.

I came across a free download for a printable chart. The goal was to write every day for 100 days. You’d cross off every day on the chart. The idea was that by the end of the 100 days, writing daily would be a habit.

So I decided to go for 100 days straight. Any amount of writing. Some days, that meant 1000+ words. Others, it was a single sentence. I didn’t keep track, but I averaged about 200-300 words a day, at least.

I finished the entire first draft of my NaNo project. Hit 50k partway through December, and then finished it shortly afterward. I started working on yet another draft of my shaman project.

I took a day off. (I needed it. On Day 100, I worked until 2am at the bookstore, was at my mom’s store from 10am until 5pm, and then I was back at the book store for another 9-2 shift. I was exhausted.)

And then I started another 100 days. This time, I had to write at least 500 words. If I wrote more than that, great. If I fell behind, I had to catch up the next day (even if my net total was up.) It gave me a chance to experiment. Writing as soon as I woke up, before I even got out of bed. Writing before I fell asleep. Writing while watching movies.

I learned a few interesting things in the process. I worked more efficiently with the TV off. So that meant either listening to music or in bed. I can bust out 500 words in about half an hour. And if I don’t start my day by writing, everything else goes screwy. (I have some mild-ish obsessive tendencies and like lists and routines.)

I kept track of my word count for that round. Over 100 days, I wrote 59, 113 words. I wound up switching from the shaman to an aborted NaNo project (I think I’ve mentioned it way back in my archives, about Dassyr the Trickster.) It was during this time that I had some serious problems with Novlr. I finished the draft a few days early, and spent some time bouncing around a few short stories and poking at another novel-length project that I’d hardly started.

So I’m now on to my third round. This time, I’m aiming for 1000 words a day. I kept bouncing around for a while, finishing up incomplete short stories. I struggled to hit 1000 words a day because I was lacking focus.

And then I ran out of short stories to finish. And I couldn’t think of any more to start.

The only thing I wanted to work on was the novel I was planning to do for NaNo. It’s the first part in a duology (possibly longer, I haven’t decided) that has its origins in the Beauty and the Beast story. With kink and witches and stuff.

So I changed my plans. I’ll be working on part two for NaNo. I’m actually almost done part one now.

The good part is that writing every day is a habit now. The bad part is that I think it’s crossing over into “compulsion” territory. When I have a bad day (like I have been all week,) I don’t want to do anything but write. I try to stop once I’ve hit my goal, so that I have somewhere to pick up the next day. But on bad days? Stopping is torture.

This might not sound all that bad, but when you’re trying to get a home business to thrive and do simple things like keeping up with dishes, not being able to focus on anything but writing is rough.

That being said, I’d rather obsess over writing than other things.

Anyway, when this round is done (39 days left, including today) I will have several weeks until NaNo starts. No clue what I’m going to do during those weeks. Write something, obviously.

I’ve got 39 days to figure out what.

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