Heyo, happy ... *checks calendar* ... Tuesday. So, word count calendar. This is a brilliant idea I band-wagoned onto after hearing Victoria Schwab and Erin Bow discussing it on Twitter. Victoria said something like it was the single greatest writing advice she knew, which is like a sidebar headline that screams to a writer: READ ME! I AM THE SECRET!
Like most writing "secrets," you still have to do allllll the work yourself, sigh. But would we have it any other way? The only other way I would have it is to be able to go to the future and pick up my completed manuscript from myself and carry it back in time with me :-) But I'm sure such a technology would destroy the world in too many ways to count, so let's not go there. Unless it was just me that had it. I would be mostly responsible with it. Of course, in my time-related day dreams (of which there are many), I am the only one with the gift, and the rest of you have to shift for yourselves. Sorry.
ANYWAY. This trick is really good and really, really simple:
- Get a calendar, or if you're me and it's fall and you don't have a calendar, print a calendar page off the internet.
- Get stickers. The ladies aforementioned mostly use stars. I didn't have stars, but I did have cute animals*, and it's like I'm populating a small adorable town, adding one resident at a time. Guys, meet Chimmy, he's a drummer! And look, Geronimo is going to a birthday party!
- When you write a thousand words (or however many you decide your goal will be), put a sticker on the day. Repeat.
There are rules. You only get the sticker for a thousand words completed that same day. Every day you start fresh. Some of those blank dates above, I may have written 900 words. No sticker. It's a really good incentive to get in that last 100 words. I want my sticker! Many nights since I started this trick, I've bullheadishly pursued my sticker where otherwise I'd have yawned and gone to bed. Last night, I hit 2k at precisely midnight, and introduced Tiny raccoon to the community. (Hi, Tiny!)
Some of those blank dates, I may have been revising: taking apart and putting back together. I revise heavily as I go, so there will be days when the calendar doesn't show a lot of progress, and when I look at it I see glaring blank spaces, but I know why they're there. Still, the blank spaces do glare, and worse, they mope, like: Why don't I get an animal? Don't you love me? I'm so emptyyyyy... And this is the point. To create a physical, easy-to-see record of achievement. Or, you know, lack of it.
Try it. It's a good trick. Thanks for the tip, ladies!
Speaking of these ladies, Victoria's latest novel, Vicious, came out last month. It's her first novel for adults and is a completely engrossing tale of super powers -- a fascinating look at what the fallout might be if flawed, actual humans were to acquire them. Read it! And Erin's second novel, Sorrow's Knot, comes out today, and I don't have my hands on it yet, dangit! Her first book, Plain Kate, will forever live on my favorites shelf. It was, for me, a perfect reading experience: the happy, alchemical blending of gorgeous prose, original imagination, and heart. So I can't wait to read this one.
P.S. The illustrator of the animal stickers is Marc Boutavant from France, who did the wonderful wonderful book Around the World with Mouk, and many others. And stickers!