The 7500 Word Week

So I’ve made my word goals the last three weeks, and find myself falling into a new pattern; writing sessions are longer and more immersive; the hangover, of being in that place, in that world, are longer, too. Editing is a task done to relax; it’s easier than new words and it is like doing the laundry or cleaning or cooking; something that must be done so you take as much joy in the doing of it as you can.

I like having a few days of words in the bank, being a bit ahead; it makes me feel less panicked, that I’ll fall behind and give up.

7500 words is a long shot story per week; which makes my current goal akin to the Kris Rusches 90’s era “dare to be bad” challenge. If you’ll check that link, you’ll see the phrase is properly attributed to Nina Kiriki Hoffman, though Kris and Dean Smith popularized the concept.

Dean explains it better than I will:

The base of the phrase for me is this: It takes a lot more courage to write and mail something than it does to not write, or write and not mail. And by putting out your work to editors, and/or readers, you are risking the chance that readers and editors might not like it, that it might be bad. So you are daring to be bad.

Where I have used this phrase over the years is to try to help writers who are stuck in rewriting whirlpools, never thinking anything was good enough to mail, so thus never making any real progress toward selling their work. At some point, if you write first draft or ten drafts, you have to take a chance and mail your work if you want readers to read it. At that point you must “Dare to be Bad.”

Of course, there are no real repercussions of mailing a story that fails. No editor reads anything that doesn’t work and no editor will remember your name if your story doesn’t work. Most of us (editors) have trouble remembering the names of the authors and the stories we have bought over the years, let alone the stories we glanced at and form rejected.

And there are no real risks in putting a story up on Amazon and Pubit and Smashwords yourself. If the story sucks, if your sample is bad, or your cover sucks, or your blurb wouldn’t draw flys, no one will read it or buy it or remember you. No real risk to you. Sure, no sales, but no real risk either.

But alas, new writers (and I was no exception) are all afraid of mailing our work to editors or putting it out for readers to read. New writers think that some editor with an empty desk like we see in the movies will pull up the manuscript, read every word, realize it sucks, and then put the new writer’s name on a blacklist and send thugs with guns to the new writer’s house to kill their cats. Or worse.

The reality is that no one notices, which I suppose for some people is worse. But there are no real risks.

– See more at: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=2494#sthash.Scl36HYG.dpuf

Dean is concerned about people endlessly rewriting and not submitting, which is a problem I got over somewhere down the line. Though Bog knows, it took me a decade.

1500 new words a day is the equivalent of making up a 7 or 8 minute kids bedtime story every night from scratch. Put this way, it sounds easy-peasy.

This also works out to writing Moby Dick every five months, with a few weeks editing time thrown in for good measure. Obviously, this is impossible.

I sit between those two statements now feeling strange; it’s pretty easy; it’s impossibly hard.

At any rate, it’s time to turn on Self Control, the app I use to block social media, mail and blogging, and make new words.

Wish me luck.

 

Posted in Making a Writing Life

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