Yeah, you read that right. I wrote every day for an entire year. What? No way. I also logged a total of 1,381,574 words in that very same year. Holy crap.
How did I do it? What motivated me to sit down and write every day, whether I’d had a shitty day or good one? Whether I was sick or had other things to do: (Oh Facebook NEEDS me some days. NEEDS me I tell you.)
Let me give you a little bit of background first, then I’ll tell you my secret. Sound good?
First part of 2013, I couldn’t write a thing. I sat down, I stared at my computer, and then I gave up. Or I wrote but every word was shit and I hated every minute. I whined to my friend Kathy about not being able to write. She told me to stop writing, stop thinking about writing, and just take a break.
“No!” I cried. “I’m a writer. Writer’s write. They don’t take breaks.” (Said the lady who would go weeks at a time without writing a single word.)
Now, I’m not sure why I was having such a hard time during those six months. I know I was coming off a perfectly horrendous year. Stress had been piling up and piling up but I thought 2013 would find me in a better place and for the most part it was better. But I still couldn’t write or feel good about writing.
In June, I came across the thing that transformed my writing life. Yeah, I found it on Facebook. It was a little thing called the Magic Spreadsheet. I’d been really having fun with spreadsheets at work, (I know, weird, right?) and so those two words juxtaposed really intrigued me. Magic? Spreadsheet? Together? Sign me up!
The concept of the Magic Spreadsheet is simple. You find an open track, add your info and for every day you write, you input your word count for the day. Simple. Easy. Plus, every time you add your word count you get points. Get enough points and you level up. You get more points for each consecutive day you write. Every level up comes with a higher word count needed per day to get your points. Challenge. Motivation. Reward.
It was hard at the beginning. I wrote for about ten days straight and fell off the wagon. Then I picked it up again and of course, life had to get in the way: I was slated to travel to NYC for work. What would I do? I wrote, that’s what I did. Each night, back in the hotel room at 11 or 12 I would still drag out my Neo Alphasmart and write. 250 words. That’s all I had the gumption to do at that point but do it I did.
Those 250 words started adding up. I made progress in my book that had stalled forEVER. I began to get excited about writing again. My word counts went up. And up. And up.
Then it happened. Four days into a new month, I checked the leaderboard. OMG. I was #1 for the month in total word count. Out of a hundred plus people writing that month, I’d written the MOST. I liked seeing my name in that number one slot and knew I had to keep it there. So I wrote more that month than I had in seven months and blasted the competition (in my mind, at least) out of the water.
Then I turned around and did it again the next month. And the next. No, I haven’t been number one every month since, but I’ve been number one several months in this epic year of writing and it’s so much fun. Even better, I topped a million words in less than a year. In November, my biggest writing month ever, I wrote over 120,000 words. O.O
Best of all, I found the joy in my writing again. I’ve published three novels and one short story in 2014 and have more books in the fire. I’m still writing every day and it’s because of the Magic Spreadsheet that I can sit here and brag. It motivated me like nothing else before and it’s a rare day when I don’t go on and on about the spreadsheet or send someone to the Facebook group to check it out.
It’s not magic bullet. It’s a tool and one that has been very successful for me. Your mileage may vary, but if you want to take a shot at beating my daily, monthly, yearly word counts, you should check it out. Click here for the link. Let me know if you sign up and if you want to have a battle of words.
Anyway, here’s to a year of writing every day and to another year filled with writing and word counts and number one spots on the leaderboard. Best of all, here’s to a significant accomplishment in my writing life. This has helped allay my fears that I was just playing at being a writer. It helped convince me that I had the gumption and will to do this writing thing and stick with it.
It has also convinced me that the best way to conquer writer’s block is to write. When you don’t want to, when the words aren’t coming, write anyway. Make it your duty. Write the shit. Keep going. Sometimes the shit doesn’t smell as bad after it’s been giving space to breathe but even if it does smell bad, you can add and subtract and make that shit into something beautiful.
They are pretty because recycling!