2019 went by in a fire-enclosed blur. There were some things attempted that did not go anywhere near as desired or hoped, but did succeed in helping me shift some perspectives. On top of that, life went on.
Specifically, I want to post a few quick words, a recap of sorts, from my big plan from last year – the million words.
I fell well short of that mark. Woefully short – barely making it to quintuple digits, all told (based on my guidelines). But, over the course of the year, some of the things I worked through, personally, and books I read, I have a few thoughts that I would like to share, both for those who may find it useful, and for my own future reference.
1) Preparation is key. Where the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak. When I crunched my numbers, building in “off” days for family things and holidays, I came up with something like 4,000 words a day average, but I was entering into that cold, with no established routine. Imagine starting a marathon but with no prior road work and endurance built up. The bonk will strike before even reaching the first mile point, in most cases. While I had plenty of projects to work on, I had no stamina in place, and no clear plan for writing time. (Some of the plans were derailed by work obligations in the spring that I had under-accounted for, which didn’t help matters.)
2) Reasonable expectations, and be prepared to reevaluate. I’m very close to being a Type-A personality about some things. While I had my numbers in hand, once I got off-track, I would beat myself up over what “is a perfectly reasonable, doable” amount of work. Only, like I indicated above, it wasn’t really reasonable for me. But I didn’t really realize that or have that epiphany until well after I had self-sabotaged my efforts and thrown in the towel on the effort. What I didn’t do was readjust my focus. While on one level I was okay landing among the stars, I really only wanted the moon, and if I couldn’t get it, what was the point?
The thing is, art in general and writing in particular are long-game endeavors. It requires time, practice and repetition. It’s an endurance process. While on one level I understood that, it took a psychologically rough year to help drive the point home.
I’m still intent on the “Million Words in a Year” goal, but I’m retooling my approach to actually position myself to stand a better chance of achieving it. It may take a couple of years, but I’ll be trying it again.