How Did I Do With Those 1000 Words?

At the start of the summer, I told you how I had read On Writing by Stephen King. And how I had resolved to follow his advice and aim to write 1000 words a day.

I also told you that I’d get back with you once the summer was over and report how I had fared.


Just like anyone with a New Year’s resolution will tell you, I started out great. Full of zeal I dove right in. 1,478 words the very first day! Then there was a long weekend, Memorial Day. Can’t write when you’re packing picnic lunches and spending whole days on the boat, then doing laundry and treating sunburn afterwards, so three days’ pause.

But no big deal, I’d make it up, I vowed. And put in 1,117 and 1,344 words the next two days, respectively. (And yes, I am THAT anal and kept a calendar with the word count). In fact, up until June 10, I wrote an average of 895 words per day. Not too shabby.

But then there was a death in the family. We had to drop everything and fly to Europe. Where we stayed for 4 days, not more. How then can I explain that I didn’t write a single word after that for an entire month? And only an average of 170 words a day for the month after that, until the end of summer?

Sure, there were plenty of excuses. Driving to the end of our state to drop off our oldest at Governor’s School, a university summer program. Going to a 30-year high school reunion two states over. Driving for hours in the other direction, one state over, to apply for passports. Taking our son on a week of college visits. Planning two girl birthday parties, one of which involved designing an elaborate mall scavenger hunt. Going on a beach trip. Hosting a visitor from overseas. Watching every single Soccer World Cup game, and getting senselessly drunk after the last one.

It was a busy summer.

But that still doesn’t excuse my overall average of only 258 words per day. My summer should have yielded 77,000 words, and I barely topped 20,000. And those weren’t even premium words. Premium words would be working on a second book. These were all blog posts, and a little bit of translating. I’m not counting emails, by the way. Although I’d love to as they make for a lot of words.

If I’m honest with myself, being busy is not solely responsible for keeping me from writing. What keeps me from writing is that inner hurdle of not wanting to start. If I’m in a groove, and if I write every single day, I can crank out those 1,000 words pretty easily. I ignore my emails, I step over the dust bunnies and laundry piles, I serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches three days in a row, and I write. But once I stop for a few days, for whatever reason, I find every excuse in my repertoire not to start again. And the longer I’ve stalled, the more daunting the task appears to be.

I guess it all goes to show that I’m no Stephen King. Writing 1,000 words per day sounds very doable, on any given day, but writing them consistently every single day of the year is another matter entirely.

I’ll start a new count tomorrow. Or maybe the day after.

Tomorrow I have a tennis match to win.

Writing every moment of the day, and still falling short…


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