Wednesday 16 February 2011

One Million is a Good Motivator

Just before New Year, I had one of "those" conversations on Twitter which led to the formation of an idea, and the proposal of a challenge. Brian Knight, otherwise known as @TheNewAuthor, challenged me to write one million words by the end of 2011. For the mathematical fetishists among you, that works out at 83,334 words per month, 19,230 words per week, or 2740 words per day. Ouch.

It's now 16th February, and I've written a grand total of 81,274 words. That's more than I would have imagined I would have written by this point in the year, although I'm still off the target by some margin (over 48,000 words - some margin, I think you'll agree). Even more annoyingly, that would be a decent-sized novel if I'd stuck to writing just plain fiction to eat up the word count, but I didn't. Rather, that figure is made up of;
  • blog posts (here, for Fuel Your Writing, Write Anything and Icy's Cultural Carnival)
  • Friday flashes
  • my writing journal
  • work on forthcoming Tales from Vertigo City serials
  • short stories
  • my current WIP, a Western novella named The Guns of Retribution, and
  • stream of consciousness brainstorming sessions in which I work out plot points by writing around them
Who would have thought I'd write so much? I certainly didn't. OK, so it's not as much as I would have liked to have written at this point, but having a goal like "write one million words in 365 days" is one hell of a motivator.

Speaking of which...

Someone asked me the other day what motivates me. I was somewhat flummoxed as I've never really considered myself to be a motivated person (I don't even list it as one of those generic, catch-all buzzwords you find on CVs). I just do what I do because I want to do it - I've never stopped to analyse the reasoning behind it. I guess "It seemed like a good idea at the time" or "I'm getting paid to do it" is my usual rationale. However, in the case of writing, this line of reasoning falls flat.

In putting pen to paper, I guess my biggest motivation is the act itself. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy telling stories - I always have done. It doesn't occur to me NOT to write. So why wouldn't I want to do something that I enjoy? Of course, one might ask, if one were so inclined, why I then feel compelled to share them with the world, and I, being cheeky, would no doubt reply "Because I can". In all seriousness, I put my stories up here, or submit them to anthologies, or make them available as ebooks because I want to other people to enjoy them. I know how mundane and dull existence can be, and if I can lift someone out of that for a while, even a few minutes, then I consider that a job well done. Besides, humans rationalise their world through stories, be it our personal narratives in the form of our memories, or how we connect facts in order to communicate events to one another. Sharing fictional stories is a nice way to connnect with fellow humans.

When it comes to a solitary pursuit such as writing, you need some kind of emotional motivation. Sure, the fear of missing a deadline can spur you on as you slap down sentence after sentence, and I'm sure writing because you're paid to do so also ensures you churn out thousands of words a day. However, I still think there's nothing quite like writing for the simple joy of doing so, when the imagination becomes so vocal in speaking its mind that you can't do anything but write.

Enjoy what I do and provide some escapism? Yeah, that's why I'm a writer.


kathrynjankowski said...

"there's nothing quite like writing for the simple joy of doing so"

Amen! ;-)


Cheers! aiming high, and staying on path.

I still need to find my own focus, but I am aiming my pen and arrow in the lead.

Steven Chapman said...

A million words in one year?! I'm breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Good luck!

I'll be happy to write 10% of that this year, maybe 20%...hmm maybe...NO! Dammit, I'm not going to get sucked into a 2740 daily battle, it's hard enough getting out of bed in the morning some days! :P

Magaly Guerrero said...

I've never calculated the amount of writing I actually do in that way. Wow! I kind of just added work, school, blogging, and my fiction writing and all of the sudden I feel pretty damn good about my word count.

2,740 words at day... what a cute (huge) number ;-)

Icy Sedgwick said...

Kathryn - ^_^

Teri - Stick with it, you'll find it.

Steven - I often say "Yeah I'll do that" without stopping to think about it...but then I hate leaving challenges undone, so it's all my own fault!

Magaly - It all adds up after a while!!

Anonymous said...

Icy - That was a very nice piece and you made some very good points. We write for the simple joy of it; everything else branches off of that truth. It is amazing to watch the numbers add up and, I'm positive about this, when we reach the end of the year you will be very surprised by your word count total. I can't wait to see it.

Mari said...

One million words? It's like NaNo for the whole year! *dies*

On the why you do it, I'm with you, Icy, I love to write, and escapism is not a bad thing either. ;)

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