For several years, I’ve posted writing advice here either once a week or once every ten days. In all that time, I’ve seldom missed a day. I’ll continue to post here occasionally, but the time has come that I am going to cut it way back.
More and more often, I’m finding myself repeating in this blog something I recently posted to my Daily Journal. And actually, most of my nonfiction efforts go into that blog.
But it’s a well-kept secret thus far, with only around 30 subscribers. By comparison, this blog has around 500 subscribers. And most of them are missing the meaty, real-world writing advice I pass out over there almost every day.
If you enjoy the tips you find here, I recommend you Sign Up for my Daily Journal. It’s a double opt-in process, so after you click the link, you’ll receive an automated email. You have to click the link in it to sign up for the Journal.
As an alternative, I can add you to the list for the journal myself. Of course I won’t add you unless you ask me to. So if you’d rather do that, just email me and let me know. You can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help you decide, here are a couple of recent articles from the Daily Journal.
Again it’s been brought to my attention that some people find word count somehow a less than honorable way to think about writing. So I’ll clarify briefly.
FOR ME (emphasis intentional) keeping track of the number of new words I put on the page is both a catalyst and a measurement of productivity. To explain, I’ll use a simple example.
Say two writers both meet their goal to write one new short story per week. So at the end of a year, both have written 52 short stories.
The problem is, “short story” isn’t a measure of quantity, though certainly “52 short stories” is.
But say one writer writes stories that consist of 2000 words or less. The other writes stories that fall between 3000 and 6000 words each.
Both can claim to have written 52 short stories in a year (an accomplishment) and both can claim a streak that’s lasted at least 52 weeks in a row (another accomplishment, and a huge one).
But the first writer has written 104,000 new words of fiction or less, whereas the other has written between 156,000 words at the minimim and 312,000 words at the most. So who is the more prolific writer?
Depends on whether you want to call “story” a measure of quantity. Either way, both have achieved something incredible. On the other hand, the second writer has gotten a LOT more practice.
And if you want to improve in your storytelling ability, you must practice.
Not to mention, if you’re a writer, you must write. Right? If you’re a mechanic, you fix stuff. If you’re a carpenter, you build stuff. If you’re a writer, you write.
I should also point out here that “story” and “writing” are different concepts.
Story is what you have in your mind, or what the characters bring to you. It’s what you run through with your characters if you’re fortunate enough to have learned to trust your subconscious.
Writing is the mechanical act of putting little black marks on a page in such a way that sometime later another person (the reader) will decipher them. When he does so, the same “story” that you enjoyed will be in his mind as well.
So whatever you choose to do, however you choose to touch benchmarks on your writing, I will continue to use cold, hard numbers. If for no other reason than because it’s more practical (FOR ME) to count mechanical words as a benchmark of how far I’ve come.
It’s also practical (again, FOR ME) to use numbers to set future benchmarks (goals) for where I want to be with putting little black marks on a page a month from now, two months from now, and a year from now.
And while I’m on that topic, here’s a related one.
Short Fiction and Streaks
Some of you will remember that at one time I had a streak going of writing at least one short story per week. I finally intentionally broke the streak (yes, intentionally… I’m just that stupid) at 70 weeks. I’ve been taking half-hearted shots at starting and maintaining a new streak ever since.
Partly as a result of that streak, at one time I had short stories lined up for the Short Story of the Week out as far as three months in advance.
I just realized this morning, it’s been awhile since I wrote one. But the ones I had queued up kept right on posting every week. And in fact, the last short story I wrote posted last Monday (May 23).
Yet my readers expect a free short story every week. So I’m thinkin’, maybe I’d better get hot.
So I’m starting a new personal challenge to write at least one short story every week. And of course, that’s in addition to this blog, novels, etc.
Just to challenge myself a little more, I waited until after the last story posted to write a new one. Just to make it a true week. But from here on, for at least awhile, I’ll HAVE to write at least one new short story every week just so I’ll have something to post.
Plus a lot of Donors have gone awhile, patiently, without anything new from me. Thank you all. I’ll be getting some new stuff to you soon.
‘Til next time, happy writing!