For Writers: A Waterfall of Words

2019 is bringing big changes to my schedule.

I won’t have as many days to waste time write. Add to this that I need to put some serious effort into not sitting cross-legged in an armchair for quite so many hours a day, and I’m thinking about how I write and how to schedule that time.

I write fast. Even with a few breaks to stretch my hands and legs, I can easily write 1400 words an hour. But I don’t.

Instead, I sit in that comfy chair, the door closed, my laptop open and waiting for the touch of my fingers, my current novel hungry for more words, and I fritter. I read blogs, I work on planning all aspects of my life in a series of spreadsheets. I check social media, I read the news, I get up for snacks. I send text messages. I look through my photos for Instagram-worthy shots.

At the end of every most days, I’ve reached my more-than-reasonable word-count goal for the day. And although counting words is dull, and seems pointless, this is how a novel gets written. Two thousand words a day, sometimes more, sometimes less, and in forty-five days, a medium-sized novel is born.

When each year comes to an end, I look back and think of all the wasted hours. All the time I could have been writing or taking walks or reading books or doing any one of a hundred other things disgusts me.

This year, if I’m going to keep giving readers the books they keep asking for, I have to do something differently. I’ve been battling the time-wasting monster for years. For my entire writing life. Every writer does. Even when I worked at another job, I wasted those precious early morning and weekend hours. Somehow, the writing still gets done, more or less. But never the number of stories that are burning inside my head, wanting to find life behind a book cover.

If I’m going to publish the books I’ve scheduled for the year, and if I’m going to find a way to write the trilogy that set me on fire a few months ago and then got shoved to the back corner of the closet, well out of sight, I need to write during my writing hours.

Starting today, and continuing on the days when I have a full day for writing, I need to write 5,000 words. It’s completely doable. Four hours of solid work, even with breaks. All it requires is focus. So easy to say.

It’s called getting into the flow and staying there. It’s called not stopping to fiddle every ten minutes. It’s called not letting mental criticism take over my brain, silencing that voice until the book is complete and it’s time for the editor to do her job. Before that, she needs to get out of my room and leave me alone.

And it’s her voice that sends me skipping across the internet looking for distractions and debates and information, anything to keep me from facing the terror of that blank page. Cowering before the nerve-wracking act of easing that story out of my head and onto the screen.

Without a doubt, it’s terrifying. It’s facing the fear that the story isn’t going to come together. It’s facing the fear that it won’t be as good as what’s in my imagination. It’s recognizing the fear that I don’t know what’s going to happen but walking forward anyway. And that’s life in a metaphor — the choice of succumbing to the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen, or walking blindly forward.

I’ve been on my first vacation in two years. I’m still on vacation, and since writers can rarely vacate, I’ve found a few days to work. Starting today, I’m re-entering the world of my story. Five thousand words.

I’ll do what I know I need to do to get into that flow of images and words. I know how to do it. I’ve done it before so I know it’s possible. This year has to be different.

It’s easy. It’s impossible. The choice is mine.

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