Margaret Ethridge · muse

Pushing it

In the past month, we’ve had a lot of talk about writing goals on this blog. I babbled about the challenges I face in trying to juggle regular writing time into my day, Megan recapped the inspiration we found at our writer’s retreat at a gorgeous lodge in the Ozarks, and Cyndi explored the concept of writing a ‘Fast Draft’. Judging by that fair bit of yammering, I think it’s safe to say that we all struggle with productivity at some point in our careers.

I know. I know…I’m quite the limb climber-outer for saying that, aren’t I?

How’s this for an analogy? Writers are like plumbers.

As romance writers, it’s probably safe to say our big wrenches are a better fit for sassy wenches, but the practice isn’t all that different. Writers can be as frustrating as plumbers. There are days when we tell our muse that we’ll be there between seven and ten but fail to get butt in chair before three. Or worse, we don’t show up at all. Writers and plumbers can both be tinkerers. We tighten things up to be certain there are no drips, and loosen some fittings just enough to find the right flow. And like some plumbers, writers can sometimes find themselves clanging around without a clue as to how to fix the damn thing.

*deep breath*

But the process of elimination is the same. This works, that doesn’t. Try another line of pipe, tighten down the nuts and bolts, turn the spigot and hope for the best. And, for the record, this writer/plumber does not give anyone license to wear extreme low-rise jeans. Crack kills, no matter how cute your tuchas may be. Remember that.

Last month I challenged myself to write 1,000 words per day. To some people that word count seemed like a lot; to others it was no big deal. For me, the number ran fairly middle of the road. The point of the exercise was to make myself open my WIP every day. Once I get going, I’m going, but boy-oh-boy could I find a thousand things rather than double-clicking that file.

I’m happy to report that it worked. On the days when the words were flying fast and free, I banked a few extras. That way I could ‘earn’ a day off now and again. Now, I’m the proud owner of over 44,615 words I didn’t have on May 1st.

Having a daily word count goal works for me. My problem wasn’t that I didn’t want to write. My problem was that I forgot who I was for a little while. I successfully completed NaNoWriMo the last three years in a row, but somehow I’ve lost that can-do attitude in the off months. This little experiment helped me get my groove back. Putting words on the page helped me remember how much I love to write. It doesn’t matter if I keep them or not, I have to write before I can rewrite.

I am a goal-oriented individual in almost every aspect of my life. See that bridge? I will run that far. Behold! The perfect pair of shiny red shoes! I shall make them mine. What’s that? A blank page? I must fill it with words. Another blank page? Fine. I will tell you a story.

There’s a June word count tracker on my computer. I’m going to put a minimum of 1,500 words per day on that spreadsheet. Why? Because sometimes knowing you can do this much isn’t enough. Sometimes you just have to push it.

How do you push yourself? Do you need a little nudge? Set a goal in the comments and we can cheer each other to victory.

I love the smell of victory on my computer. It smells like…ooh! Chocolate chip cookies! Funny how that happens…

Happy Friday, everyone!

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