Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another Week in Writing, Day 1: A Mantra for Daily Writing

I posted on my Facebook account recently the following (provisional) mantra:

250 words a day is an article a month.

Now, we could nitpick the holy crap out of this, of course.  If it were really that easy, we'd all be doing that, and the academic world would be drowning in articles.  We know that anywhere from 15-85% of the words we write go straight in the shredder. And once you reach 8,000 words that are "keepers," there's still the business of revising. Fine. Granted.

But that mantra reminds me that I can set an achievable goal for a day, and if I stick to it, I'll be at my big goal more quickly than I'd believe.

Some reaction to my post echoed my thoughts for so many years: How can you write every day? What if you don't know enough yet?  You'll just waste time writing crap. I'm here to tell you: Writing crap every day is never a waste of time. And here's why:
  1. In that crap, there will likely be some good stuff that I'll come back to months later, after having forgotten I've written it.  
  2. Even writing crap every day is part of forming a habit. And that, in the long run, is what's gonna get me to my goal.

Or so I keep telling myself. But the fact is that I've found some of that old freewriting, pasted it into the draft of what I already have. It's now a Franken-Article, with bits and bobs and holes and behavior issues.  But it's over 6,000 words long, which is enough to make me think that this actually could be a grown-up article by the end of the semester.

And it's 9 a.m., and I've accomplished my writing goal for today.  Time to get on with my weekend!

3 comments:

Charleen said...

Those are some important points to remember.

Good Enough Woman said...

This post is great. I have set a time allotment rather than a word allotment, but the goal is similar. Little bits every day. And your thoughts about writing crap are very encouraging.

Evan said...

I thought this post was very motivating. I'm just starting an article that needs to be done by the end of October and it's just what I needed to get moving!