Words, Words, Words

For a writer, word count is a measure of progress. I like being about to say that I wrote a thousand words in an hour. If a published book would magically appear every time I reached 50,000 words, that would be even better.

Instead, I count words. Some days I delete more words than I write, but those aren’t necessarily wasted days. Revision is all about cutting superfluous words.

I try to set myself a daily goal, but it’s hard to know what is reasonable. During NaNoWriMo I averaged 2000 words a day, but that pace nearly ended my marriage. I finished, but of the 50,000 words I produced, about 40,000 needed to be deleted. I swore I wouldn’t do it again; but check back with me in October.

The best thing about NaNo is having a goal and the support of a group trying to achieve the same goal. As I’ve wandered around the internet, trying to avoid facing my NaNo-under-reconstruction, I’ve found a few goal-oriented groups that look interesting. I haven’t joined any, but I book-marked them in case I need inspiration.

100 words is devoted to the simple idea of writing 100 words a day about anything –exactly 100 words. This limit may frustrate some writers, but if you are always pursuing quantity and want to focus on quality, it might provide an interesting challenge. It’s a different kind of writing, though not for every one. 100 words about what?

You can write about anything you want. Anything. Some people open tiny windows into their lives; others write surrealist poetry. Some writers post finely tuned, perfectly crafted vignettes; others show up at the end of the night and spew drunken nonsense onto the screen.

Another exacting group is the 6S Social Network: What can you say in six sentences? Joining gets you a mini-blog where you can write stories, poems, journal entries — with a limit of six sentences. It looks like a friendly place, with people reading and commenting on one another’s posts.

For writers who aspire to longer works but need discipline, How to Write a Novel in 100 Days or Less provides inspiration in a daily log — ‘words of encouragement’ — that guide you to the end of your book. In the words of the creator, John Coyne,

How many times have you finished reading a novel and said, “I could have written that book.” You know what? You’re right. All of us, I believe, carry at least one novel around in our heads or our hearts… So now it is time for you to be writing.

For those who find NaNo too strenuous, Inky Girl provides challenges at three levels: 250, 500 and 1000 words. She even gives badges for your blog or website. Debbie Ridpath Ohi (aka Inky Girl) came up with the idea because

…I find that writers start motivational challenges like NaNoWrimo with enthusiasm and good intentions, but give up when they start missing their daily targets for more than a few days in a row…undermining their confidence and defeating the purpose of the original challenge. I also wanted a challenge that lasted the whole year rather than just a month.

Most recently, I ran across one that’s just getting started:  501words. Here, you get a nifty-looking WordPress blog and a daily prompt for inspiration. Its creator is  John Chandler. His words:

“What makes anyone a better writer is writing. Often. A lot. Like any creative work, we get better when we roll up our sleeves daily and make something. Unfortunately, we often think we don’t have anything to say, or we don’t have anything to write about. 501words is here to change that. Everyday, we post a word or phrase. You write a 501 word response. We provide the reason, the excuse, to write. And that’s one heckuva big hurdle out of your way.”

If you need structure, and like the idea that someone is keeping tabs on you, maybe one of my suggestions will inspire you to get writing. If you have found other sites that offer this kind of help, please drop me a comment!


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