writing

Round 1 Week 10 Wednesday

And… here it is, the countdown to those two words that fill so many writers with joy (and dread)

The End

But is it really?  Writers know that those words are just another step in the journey.  If you wrote them for the first, or for the twentieth time, you have something new to start, a new beginning…  even a new ending.

That my friends is our prompt for today.  This time, I’d like to draw you attention to the lovely photo that Elizabeth Mitchell posted to her blog for the First Friday Photo bloghop I’d mentioned last week) here: Lapidary Prose and write a drabble (a little 100 word story) with the picture and the cycle of endings and beginnings as integral parts of the piece.

And…  there might be a small contest involved.  If so, there will be a perk, but it will be a surprise.

For now, just write, check-in and visit your fellow ROWers.  As always, you can check in here, at our FB page or both:

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Why Word Count Might Just Be Overrated

Why Word Count Might Just Be Overrated

Denise D. Young

 

Okay, so what if word counts just don’t matter as much as we think they do? What if metrics are nice, and they give us the warm fuzzies when we meet them, and they help us meet our deadlines, but maybe they’re way too overrated?

Creative Commons Dreamstime.com

Because I kinda think they are.

This is something I’ve been pondering for a while now. A while back I drafted a now-shelved novella called Goblins and Grimoires. The characters’ story will eventually be told, but not at all in the way I attempted it.

Don’t get me wrong. Failure isn’t always bad. Usually, failure teaches us.

But when I wrote that draft, I was obsessed with word count. I basically NaNo’d it—wrote a draft of it in a month. Fast drafting, you might say.

Yeah. It was awful.

I mean, not even salvageable. That poor story needs a page-one rewrite.

Now, there are other stories I’ve written in a matter of weeks, and they turned out to be rich, wonderful, layered stories. So, what’s the difference?

Over at Writer Unboxed, Steven James touches on this very phenomenon in his article “From 2000 to 300—Why You’re Writing Too Much.” James writes

Odds are, you’re trying to write too many words a day.

You’ve probably heard that you should write a thousand words per day. Or two thousand. Or five. Or ten.

Or maybe you signed up for a program in which you (supposedly) write a novel in a month. But for whatever reason, you’re trying to hit an arbitrary “word count” each day and if you don’t hit it you end up feeling somehow disappointed in yourself.

I tried that routine for a while.

One day in ten hours I pumped out six thousand words and I felt way ahead. Amazing! So productive! If I could do that every day…

Oh, yeah.

So then the next day I spend the same amount of time writing, and wrote exactly one word.

Yes.

One.

In ten hours.

Of course, I typed in more words, and then revised, deleted, rewrote, and so on, ending the day just one word further into the book.

That was the last time I tried to hit a certain word count. It was just too depressing and the ups and downs of good days and bad days wasn’t helping motivate me.

He goes on to note that writers are the only creative folks who seem to use such arbitrary metrics to “measure” creative productivity.

I’ve written stories in a night that emerged beautiful and fully formed, needing only minor revisions.

I’ve spent months drafting a novella, each word feeling grueling, but it ended up being one of the best things I ever wrote. If I’d forced myself to meet word count goals instead of allowing the story to unfold gradually, I might’ve ended up with a mess.

I am generally in favor of what I call “slow writing,” but I think a better term for it is “organic.”

Here’s the deal. Writing is hard and uncertain work. So, we want a recipe for success. Someone tells us if we write 1,000 words a day, we’ll be prolific and therefore successful. We figure out that if we write 1,667 words a day, we can pen a novel in a month. That’s a pretty tasty carrot to dangle in front of us. Who can resist?

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with word-count goals, but I think some of us do better with a more organic approach. As in, today I wrote 300 words. Yesterday I wrote 2,000. That’s just the nature of creativity.

My goal, instead, is to show up at the page. My goal is to work hard at my craft. My goal is to write thoughtfully and push myself to grow. I am notoriously bad at meeting word-count goals with any amount of consistency anyway, which is probably why they’re lousy for me in the long run.

So, yes, I’m going slow. And it seems to be working. So, yes, I’m allowing my stories to unfold at a more natural pace, and I’m emerging with better first drafts.

I think people worry if they allow word count goals to fall by the wayside, they’ll slip into laziness, and that is a risk, to be sure.

But what if we just change the metric? What if we vow to show up at the page every day and work hard? That might take us further than writing 2,000 words in the wrong direction.

If word count goals work for you, please, stick with them. I just think we need to realize, as writers, that word counts aren’t the only measure that matters.

What about you? Do you use word counts to track your writing progress? What other ways are there of keeping track of our creative processes?

Round 1 Week 5 Wednesday

So…  last week we tried our first Flash Fiction prompt.  This week… no prompt, but you’re still welcome to try writing something for it (prompt and “rules”) if you’d like.  Next week we’ll have a new one for you, and a list of links to all the people who participated (so get your written if you are interested).

Also, Monday will have our next sponsor post, this time from Elizabeth Mitchell.

Stuff is happening at the ROW80.

Here’s today’s linky:

Leave us an update there, here in the comments, or on our FB page at the pinned post.

Round 1 Week 4 Wednesday

credit: Zajcsik at Pixabay

A while back I talked with our sponsors (you may have seen them visiting your blog, but if not, check them out here) about some things we could do to make the ROW80 experience a bit more fun for you all.  Flash fiction, stream of consciousness, raffles…  We discussed a few options, and as two of our sponsors (Mike and Beth) enjoy writing flash fiction, we’ve tried to best figure out how to start doing this.

Well, I figure we’ll make a few mistakes before we get this sort of thing off the ground, but we won’t get anything done if we don’t start, so…  here you go, a prompt (photo above) and the words: a burnt metal box

The rules?  I’m kind of winging it here, but it seems unfair to make this another “job” for you all.  This is the “Challenge that Knows You Have a Life”.  So let’s try this:

  • Flash and postcard fiction (drabbles work too), no more than 700 words
  • Story needs to include both photo and word prompt
  • Post stories on your own blog/website (post links in the comments or at the linky)
  • We’ll try doing this once a month or more if it ends up being popular

As always this also a Wednesday check-in.  Post progress (and links to stories) in the comments, at the linky (the froggie below) or in our FB group:

Round 1 Week 3 Wednesday

Been reading a lot of posts about how hard it is to get writing this round (yes, yes, I am guilty too).

Well…

If you’re looking for some good “blank pages” 750words.com and Penzu.com are great places to start. I prefer 750 myself, mostly since I like the way it gives you an overview of your writing, but the prompt offering at Penzu is good too.  Both are awesome sites, and I use both as best suits my mood.

For today, my Penzu prompt was this quote by Winston Churchill.  It seemed particularly apt for a group of writers trying to regain their stride:

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”- Winston Churchill

So…  now that you’ve got some new directions to focus your efforts at, here’s your linky! Tell us what you think and how you’re doing: here or at our FB page:

Round 1 1st Wednesday Check-in

As always, the first check-in of a round can feel a bit… well, pointless might be a good word.  It’s not as if we’ve had time to make serious strides on our goals, nor have we had a chance to see what is working or what isn’t yet… not really.

Thing is, it is important to take stock regularly.  Everyday can be perfect for some people.  Others manage just fine with a once-a-week or monthly schedule.  It’s the consistency that matters.  And…  it also helps to not wait too long before the first review.  The sooner the first chance you take to check in on yourself, the sooner you can see if things are working or not.

The sooner you can figure out if the path you’re on will get you where you are trying to go, or if you’ll have to backtrack a mile or more to find the right exit on the expressway.

Not that missing a turn is always a bad thing either.  Sometimes there are new and fascinating discoveries to be made.

Even then, it helps to know where you were intending to go and how far afield you might be.

So here it is, the first check-in and first linky of a new year.  May you be exactly where you want to be, whether you’re right on target or meandering peacefully for a moment or two.

Oh, and here is a lovely advice/opinion piece a fellow writer from the Facebook iWriteNetwork group posted with an eye to the journey and what it means to be a writer…    Roxanne Gay: Advice to Aspiring Dreamers

Round 4 Check-in 23

Congrats!

Wow…  A whole year of words!  Who would have believed it?

All of you with that little thought bouncing in the back of your head with the piping voice crying “Me! Me!  I knew it would happen!” should be patting yourselves on the back.  It’s that faith in yourself that will keep you moving forward, in writing and everything else you choose to do.

For those of you who now looking back at all you’ve accomplished with a slight glaze in your eyes, as you realize what an amazing year for your productivity it was despite all the delays and distractions and well, Life… you should pat yourselves on the back too.  You persevered in the face of doubts and misgivings.  You faced up to distractions, and you wrote.

For those of you looking at the years with regrets though…  don’t.  Pat yourselves on the back as well.  Comfort yourself in the truth that Life Happens, things is out of control sometimes and whether we wish to or not, we can get lost in the constantly shifting tides of “busy” that hover around us, waiting for a moment to draw our attention.  Did you write at all last year?  Then build on that.

A new year and a new round of words are both just around the corner.

For now, here’s the linky. Feel free to post your check-in blog post at it, or if you just want to quick update us, a comment on this post or at our FB page works fine too.

Remember, Wednesday is the last day of this round and the final check-in of 2017.  Sunday I will be posting the “goals post” where you can make your plans for the next round.

Round 4 Check-in 22

Writers Write

So here we are at the end of another wonderful Round of Words (well, pretty close to it).  At certain times, it can seem like 80 days is a long time to be working on a single set of goals.  For myself, I feel I need a full year, and more.

The ROW80 is the challenge that knows you have a life, in part because our goals are directly involved in our lives.  From our choice to be writers and write regularly to our choices to make time in the midst of our busy lives to work steadily toward that goal.  Something like that doesn’t last just a week or even a round…  So, as we approach a new year and a new round, take some time to consider, what steps will bring you just that bit closer to being that writer.  And what steps will keep you one if that is your goal.

And as always…  here’s the linky for your check-in.  Let us know how you’re doing, here on our Facebook page, or both:

Round 4 Check-in 14

image cred: Spot 27

Have you ever tried doing something you’ve always believed you couldn’t do?

How did you feel about that moment when you finally chose to take that step?  Did you even feel like you had a choice?  Was it simply the best choice you could make in a sea of bad choices?  Or did you boldly step forward, knowing that you needed to try this thing, to prove something to yourself or to another.

How did you feel?

This is the place our characters need to be…  maybe they actively want this thing you’re having them do.  Maybe they dread it horribly.

But they need to change, to be frightfully aware that they are leaving their comfort zone.

Because that is where the story is…  and we want to hear about it.