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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

1000 Words A Day

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. So I publicly committed to write 1000 words a day and immediately became paralysed.

No no, that's not really true; I'm always writing — which is why I thought it would be such a breeze. I write emails, I write verses, I write morning pages, I write notes, I write journal entries....  Alas, for the last few days, even including extraneous things like emails, I'd be lucky to write 200 words some days. You know how it is: life gets in the way.

True, some of my journal entries are longer than 1000 words, and at the time I took on this challenge I had just decided to take a break from poetry and create a journal-cum-memoir. That didn't last very long. The truth is, I like writing poems best of all, and to focus on prose very soon palls. Perhaps I should write my journal in poetry! Many years ago I showed a young man my notebook full of poems and he said, 'It's like a sort of diary in verse.' At the time I found the comment disappointing, but he was probably quite right. Perhaps I should capitalise on it.

But there's another reason why even a poem a day is not a good thing for me to commit to on a regular basis. Prose or poetry, I need to do a lot of editing and revising. The one journal entry I did complete and post here (the previous post) went through about eight drafts first and still it's nothing extraordinary. I have poems galore, but in recent years few of them have been revised. In the WordsFlow writing group, we've decided to up the ante and aim for excellence. A whole heap of adequate but mediocre pieces won't do. Excelsior!

So the 1000 Words A Day Challenge banner has come down. A useful idea, but not for me. If anyone feels it's for them, you can find the details at InkyGirl's blog.


  1. that sounds like a good way to get the writing joints lubricated.

  2. Er ... which?

    The challenge can be 1000, 500 or 250 words, and I'm sure many prose writers have been finding it helpful. Not flexible enough for me — I would probably do better to specify units of time: something like, 'Work on your writing for an hour a day', which could include revision.

  3. I'd have trouble with 1000 words a day too. And they certainly wouldn't be good words. I have trouble enough with a weekly project if it's too regular and enforced. I guess there are times that something like this might be useful to me - those times when I'm struggling to get anything out, when I'm lacking the motivation. But on the whole, I think something like this would freeze me up.

  4. Oh, I could never manage a thousand words a day for a sustained period. I just can't write like that, but my hat is off to those who can. :)

  5. And the people one hears of who sit down at 9 am each week day and write until 3pm or whatever. Such admirable self-discipline, and highly productive for those it suits, but I'd go mad.

    Is there, perhaps, a poetic temperament which just doesn't allow for this kind of thing — even when people are fiction writers as well, like you two, Jenny and Collin? (Apparently it has now been found that musicians' brains are physically different from others, so we might have to revise all our ideas about the specific nature of particular talents.)

  6. That's an interesting idea. I've recently had to accept that Writing for me means Not Writing sometimes. Once I started to appreciate the merits of what I've always thought to be procrastination, I found I got much more done. A 9-5 writing schedule wouldn't suit my brain at all!

  7. That's an interesting idea too!

    I have been telling students for decades that one also needs input time — and then I forget it myself.