This post got me thinking, largely because I do tend to equate words with progress. This year I've organised my time to try to make myself more productive. I work to a four-week cycle. Three weeks are spent on the work in progress and I've worked out that I need to do about 400 words a day to get a story done. For some reason I find it hard to write a story that is under 5,500 words long. The other week is spent putting the story on OWW and doing reviews for others so I can get some feedback.Image by midwinter via Flickr
It's a regime that has worked well, so far, this year. I'm on track to produce more stories this year than ever before. If I keep it up all year I'll have to keep some stories back so I don't have too many in circulation. The admin side of this hobby can be very time-consuming.
What is also good about it is the effect it has had on my creativity. The first few stories I wrote this year were hard to get done. At times it felt like I was bodily dragging each word to its place on the page. For the last couple I've struggled to get everything down on the page and tend to accumulate thousands of words of notes, snippets of dialog and scenes before I start to put the story together. It's had an effect on how I use language and the way I think about the world.
Despite these good things I feel like I'm not being as productive as I could be. Especially given that some folks are writing a story a week. There's no way I can do that but I want to be sure to get my story done in the time I've allotted to it. The days I don't get those 400 words done are lost days. Or so it seems.
There are many reasons why I don't get those words done. Sometimes I don't make the total because life gets in the way, sometimes because I'm tired and sometimes it is because of my inexperience and worry that I won't be able to do a particular scene justice. But even on those days I'm turning the story over in my head, reasoning why some scenes won't work and what route to take with the work in progress.
I also keep up the journal notes about my thoughts and what should be happening in the story. Where next to go, what details to include and how to present it. That's work, there's no doubt about it. So that blog post did make me feel better because that counts too. And it does. But, but, but. But there's no dodging the fact that a story is words on the page. I can't send off those notes and ask an editor to do the work themselves. In the end only the word count, counts.