How can I write one new work per year for the next 10 years? I tossed this idea around in my mind on the morning of September 22nd, the last day of summer, as I thought about tremendously prolific writers I admire. What separates them from other writers is their productivity and persistence. And that’s what I want to have as a writer.
Here’s the math that showed me that this wild goal is possible: write 250 words per day for 360 days. (Look I’m even giving myself 5 or 6 days off per year!) That’s 90,000 words. That’s a book. That’s almost two books! 250 words a day? I could write that while my coffee’s brewing. That’s only half a page. That’s less than the length of this post. And that got me very excited and curious. Could I actually do this?
Yes, that’s just a first draft. It needs LOADS of editing and rewriting. Yes, if you’re a planner and outliner like me, that takes time, too. Yes, there’s research. And yes, marketing is also time-consuming and extremely necessary. And you also have to pitch your own work if, like me, you don’t yet have an agent.
But in my mind the breaking down of this enormous task moves it from possible to probable. I could write a new work every year.
Always around the end of summer / beginning of fall, the new yearly inspiration for this blog strikes me. Someone says something or I read something, and the theme just clicks. I don’t worry about it anymore because it really does just happen.
So, this is my 2020 theme: I’ll be writing about the process of getting down 250 words of a new work every day. Most of the time I’ll be sharing resources, motivation, and encouragement for writers. If you’ve got questions, please ask them and I’ll do my best to either answer or find the answer for you.
Here’s to a 2020 filled with words and creativity that we can share with one another. If you’re on social media, I’ll be using the hashtag #250wordstoday to collect all of these thoughts this year.
The writing moment I love best: I write a scene, do research for the next scene, and find an eerie, wonderful synchronicity with secret history I uncovered in my research and never knew before. These magical moments makes me feel that the story I’m writing is meant to be written by me. It’s happened to me many times, especially in the course of writing my second Emerson Page novel. Every single time it happens, I’m amazed.
I hit a big milestone today with my latest novel and I hope it inspires all of you who are writers.
My first novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was published two years ago after an eight year journey. For the past two years, I’ve been working bit bit on my manuscript for my second novel while working full-time and doing extra freelance work. At the end of July after a very difficult set of circumstances, I decided to strike out on my own and open up my own company with one of the main goals being to work on my some creative projects that I haven’t had the time to complete. Finishing the manuscript for my second book was my top priority, and I set what felt like an impossible goal – to finish it in the month of August.
Today I was able to hit “compile” on my manuscript writing software. (I use Scrivener if anyone is looking for a recommendation of software.) That means I feel confident enough about all the scenes and the order of them that I can now edit the entire manuscript as a single, cohesive document. I still have a lot of work to do over the next few days, but finishing it this month actually feels possible.
So here’s to setting wildly ambitious goals and then working to make them a reality! Are you writing a book? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
Here’s to two solid weeks of heads down writing to finish my second novel by 8/31. This weekend I completely revamped the plot line. Tough work and worth it. Don’t be afraid to do this. If what you’ve written isn’t working, toss it onto the slush pile and try again. Don’t let the good keep you from the great.
She gave me 2 priceless lessons: we all have time to write and never give up. As a single mom with 2 kids, Morrison wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 15-minute increments each day because that’s all the free time she had. It took her 5 years to write it.
She kept writing despite her novel’s low sales. 3 years later, her next novel, Sula, was nominated for the National Book Award. Her following novels received mixed reviews, but she remained determined.
In 1987, 17 years after publishing her 1st novel, she won the Pulitzer. If you have a dream project, work on it bit by bit. Don’t let critics sap the joy you get from your work. Toni Morrison lived her life with passion and unending grace. She taught me to keep writing.
You were the GOAT, Ms. Morrison. How lucky we are to forever inhabit your multitude of worlds through your gorgeous books. Rest in Power, because that is what you gave all of us—the power of our own language, our own stories. What a life. What a gift.
Writers, are you ever overwhelmed by the enormity of your work. Hi, that’s my natural state of being all the time. I love being a writer. I love writing. And sometimes I feel the weight of my responsibility to do justice to a story to the point that I feel paralyzed.
My friend, Laurie, posted about this advice she got years ago from a writing group: write two pages every day. That’s it. Just two small pages. You don’t need whole days to write. You need tiny, focused windows on a consistent basis. One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. In a year you’ve got a book, and a pretty big one at that.
Two pages. I can do that any day. So can you. And we will.
Whenever I’m overwhelmed by my writing, I tell myself a story I learned from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. Right now, in this one small moment, I don’t need to write the whole novel. I just need to write enough words to fill a 2-inch picture frame. That’s it. And then when I finish that, I’ll write another 2-inch picture frame. And that is enough. That’s how every book gets written: one word at a time. This little frame to the left has seen me through every case of writer’s block, every creative panic attack, every lack of inspiration. And I’m so grateful for its wisdom (and Anne’s!)
I’m absolutely THRILLED to share that I’ve been offered & accepted a new job as a Development Manager at a TV & film production company in New York City to develop, produce, and write. I’m over-the-moon excited about this new adventure and dream job. I’m literally pinching myself to make sure this is really happening! A year ago I never would have believed this was even a possibility. It’s been a huge lesson for me that if we live our passions and share them, our lives can change in ways we can barely imagine.
This morning I realized that I’m going to have to start over. Or rather, my second novel has to be tossed and I have to begin again. I’ve been trying to patch together the pieces for months. Maybe some of them will prove useful down the line. Maybe some of them can be recycled and reused and reformed. But now what I need to do is begin again, all over again. For a split second, the weight of despair was heavy. Months of work just evaporated. And then very quickly, my heart moved from mourning to excitement. A fresh start, a new beginning created by a new ending. This is the creative process. It takes time. It takes patience. You have to be willing to go back to the beginning, reset, and try again. That’s where I am today: at the edge of the cliff, and now I leap.
I have heard back from Wind Dancer Films about the possible film production of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. They chose not to option it at this time but with solid feedback that they love the story and have logged it in their system for future consideration.
While I of course was hoping for more, I’m also extremely encouraged that they would even read the book, enjoy it, and log it in their system for future consideration all without me having an agent. I’m extremely grateful to Readers’ Favorite and the Miami Book Fair for making this possible, and of course to my publisher, Possibilities Publishing and their imprint, Thumbkin Prints. This is my first novel and is part of a series, so as the other two books are finished and published “some day” could become “one day” for me and Wind Dancer. In the words of Hamilton, maybe it’s only a matter of time.
Also, I will continue to submit to other production companies because maybe this is the right book at the right time for someone else. As always, my focus remains on the readers who need Emerson’s story of resilience and courage to face our deepest fears, just like I did many years ago. She changed my life the day she entered my imagination and I’m honored to be the person sharing her story.
As an artist of any kind, you have to keep at it. Your drive has to be stronger than the sting of any rejections. It’s part of the work. Speaking of which…I better get back to writing Emerson’s second book.