The Hundred-Word Crutch

For several years now, I’ve belonged to a one hundred words/one hundred days group, and in fact I’ve written two and a half novels and finished a third while falling off the hundred-word wagon and climbing back on again. The object is to write at least one hundred words (and/or spend a certain amount of time editing) on one’s work-in-progress (journals, emails, and grocery lists don’t count) for at least one hundred consecutive days, but there’s no penalty for dropping a day (or a month) and starting up again.

I made fifty days earlier this summer, took a break for the RWA conference, and started again on August 1. So today is Day 34, and I wrote a couple of hundred words before I went to work this morning. So now, my lazy brain tells me, I don’t have to work on it tonight. I stopped in the middle of a scene, I know what comes next, and I can leave it for tomorrow. After all, by word count, I’m about halfway through the book.

Well that sounds good, halfway through the book. Unfortunately, although I’m not real sure when I started this project, I know it was a long time ago. Too long. One hundred (or even two or three hundred) words a day isn’t getting it done.

Being a Writer

One of the workshops I attended at the conference, given by very successful hybrid author Courtney Milan, was called “The Slow Writer’s Guide to Making a Living.” A slow writer, for the purposes of Courtney’s presentation, writes fewer than three or four books a year. I’ll have to listen to that again on the conference recordings—my notes are a little sketchy. Three or four books a year—in my dreams.

I’m a pantser. I start with characters and a situation, maybe a loose idea of what they need to accomplish, and—after all, I’m writing romance—I know that the star-crossed lovers will solve their interpersonal conflicts and wind up together. How they’re going to get there, though, that’s not so clear, at least not when I’m getting started. Or even when I’m halfway through.

But I’d like to enter a couple of contests with deadlines coming up, and maybe take another shot at the Golden Heart. One of the contests only requires a few thousand words. Hey, a little editing, ready to go. The other contest takes up to 55 pages—including a synopsis. That means I’d have to plot the rest of the book, thirty or forty thousand words. Over the next two weekends. And the Golden Heart? That requires a completed novel. First draft, maybe, but complete. Deadline on that is in January.

Time to get this project moving a little faster. Not gonna get there on one hundred words a day.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lark Howard
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 12:59:24

    I tried 100 words a day and made some progress over a year–although I almost always wrote at least a page. Contests often get me focused on a new project and inflict that necessary deadline. Good luck on your entries!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Kay Hudson
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 20:43:12

    Once I get started, Lark, I usually manage a page or so. I just read Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K, which several people recommended, and she has some very good suggestions for increasing production.

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  3. JF Owen
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 21:56:43

    I wish that I could understand why there’s such a difference in my writing productivity from day to day. Some evenings I can write 1500 words and have to force myself to stop so that I’ll be able to get up in the morning to go to work. Other days, it’s all I can do to write one coherent paragraph. The engineer in me says that I’m missing a root cause. The writer in me says don’t worry about it, just write.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Kay Hudson
      Sep 05, 2014 @ 22:09:16

      2K to 10K has some interesting suggestions for figuring out how to write faster, based on analyzing your own habits. I’m definitely going to try some of her techniques.

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  4. Amber
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 22:24:29

    Hi,

    I think youre talking about the Golden Pen Contest. I really wanted to enter that but I was thrown by the synopsis. In spite of my resistance to planningp/plotting I started working on a synopsis. It was my first sysnopsis and I really struggled with it, mostly with the idea of showing the sequence of events vs the idea of demonstrating my writing style.

    Last Saturday I decided I should wait until next year. Then Sunday I woke up and wrote yet another version of my synopsis. I got excited and started to edit my scenes for the contest. At the last minute I again decided to wait until next year.

    Then I saw a post by you about the deadline extension. Yay! Ive gotten another chance!

    It looks like a really good contest.

    The whole point of all this rambling is that I learned a lot from writing the syopsis and I found plotting everything out very helpful. Ive always just sat down and written whatever came to mind and so I thought I wrote by the seat of my pants. Now, I think Im more of a hybrid.

    I hope you enter the contest They are so motivational.

    I enjoyed your blog.

    Amber

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    Reply

    • Kay Hudson
      Sep 05, 2014 @ 22:34:29

      Yes, Amber, the Golden Pen. I’ve finalled in that one twice. The only way I got Bathtub Jinn finished a couple of years ago was by forcing myself to plot the second half so I could write a synopsis for the Golden Pen. It finalled in the GP and then in the Golden Heart, so that’s been a lucky contest for me. Good feedback, too. You’ve got until the 15th, so go for it.

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