Novel Progress: 3000 Words In Three Days

Ray Bradbury
My production role model. Ray Bradbury via Wikipedia.

I’m on a roll, and I thought you should know.   I had a low day yesterday at 300, but sailed through 1700 hundred today.  There’s no finer feeling in this process than organic production, the joy of the flow, the subconscious tying together of threads and layers, the dropping of symbols, the way your brain works when you let it. But (and if you’re a writer, I know you know this), you don’t ever start there.  You have to do the grueling, embarrassing, tiring footwork to break into those times you’re writing from what our cousins the athletes call The Zone.  You’ve heard of Kevin Garnett “playing out of his mind”?  Writing can be just like that when you consciously train it to do subconscious work.  The key here is work: just ask Ray Bradbury.

Not long ago I heard a sort of writing koan that went something like this:

“If you read one hundred poets, you’ll sound like one hundred poets.  If you read one thousand poets, you’ll sound like yourself.”

In the linked post from a blog called Screenwriting From Iowa, Bradbury talks about writing 1000 words a day for 10 years before finding his voice.  Now I’m not saying it will take everyone that long, but the point here is commitment, sweat equity, effort.  The point here is to write through the desires not to, to write through to your sweet spot, to write enough crap to know what isn’t.

A huge part of my productivity comes from being forced to look at my work through different eyes via workshops, peer groups, and input from professors and my thesis advisor.  Recently, I finally took some oft-quoted, not-heeded advice about writing in general from Ann Hood.  Namely, blow it up.  For me, blowing it up means messing with structure, order, and my preconceived notions about the book’s main conceits.  I’m not saying your epic tales should be written by committee. I am saying that I know my advisor and my peers are right about what’s lacking in the story so far.  Addressing those needs s up to me.  And so I shall. And so I am.

Rest assured, friends, this novel will be finished by May 1.  Do stay tuned.

8 thoughts on “Novel Progress: 3000 Words In Three Days”

  1. There’s nothing like that feeling when the world goes away and everything you can see in your head is flowing down through your fingertips and onto the screen. I used to believe that I had a finite number of words available to use, and to reload I had to read. I’d have a stack of books and devour them, and then my head would feel like it was sloshing under the weight of words. Then I could write, empty my head onto the page. If I had to amuse myself while my head was full, the only thing I could manage was graphic novels. Odd, perhaps, but it worked.

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  2. From my inbox today from wordsmith.org:

    sitzfleisch
    1. The ability to sit through or tolerate something boring.
    2. The ability to endure or persist in a task.
    Sitzfleisch is a fancy term for what’s commonly known as chair glue: the ability to sit still and get through the task at hand. It’s often the difference between, for example, an aspiring writer and a writer.

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  3. Great post. 1000 words for TEN years. Oy. I’m working on writing 2 pages a day before I let myself screw around on the internet. Most days it goes well. It averages out to about 500 words a day. I think 1000 could kill me.

    So glad you find your blog by the way.

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  4. I’ve been working on my first long project and I’m again and again amazed at the moments when I really lose myself. I tend to be so unromantic about writing that it is always shocking to feel that mysterious energy flowing. Also, there is the rush of finding the correct final line or scene. Mmmmm. I know I found it when I realize I’m on my feet walking in circles with my hands on the back of my head. PS I like this theme on my iPad. Don’t know if it is the same on a computer.

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