One Thousand Words on One Thousand Words
(Originally written 5/26/11)
I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while, mostly as an excuse to write. See, I went to a readers retreat a while back hosted by the folks at this great podcast called Books on the Nightstand. (If you aren’t familiar, I highly recommend it!) It was an amazing day of author’s speaking and hobnobbing with like-minded people who love books. It was truly one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had in a long time.
One of the authors, Matthew Dicks, said that we should all start writing. He said it much more eloquently, of course, but the upshot was that anyone can write and everyone should write. I’ve dabbled in short fiction before and have secretly always wanted to be a novelist, so his words really struck home. And since that weekend I’ve come up with this idea for a novel. It’s a combination of folk lore about my grandmother’s life (for instance, she once told me that she and her “gang” of school friends invented s’mores) and some aspects of my childhood. (Trust me, it sounds great in my head.) But I’m having trouble getting started. I guess I’m intimidated.
The friend who attended the retreat with me has a blog. When she was telling me about it I thought it sounded like a great way to at least start putting words on the page but didn’t know if I had anything worth writing about. I have a fairly boring life and can’t imagine that anyone would want to read about it. And my observations on my life, or life in general, aren’t particularly clever like some blogs I’ve read. My friend writes about books. Don’t get me wrong, I love absolutely books, but there are just so many book blogs out there. (Although I have to say that I was tempted when my friend said that publishers sometimes send her free books to read so she’ll blog about them. Is there anything better than a free book? Maybe if I keep using the word book some digital cutting service somewhere will think I’m blogging about books and a publisher will offer me free stuff. I’m not really familiar with how that works, but I’m guessing that you have to have a certain number of followers for them to want to you to read their books.) Plus, my comments on the books I’ve read are usually along the lines of “I liked that book” or “I didn’t really enjoy that one.” Witty, huh?
I briefly entertained the idea of writing about the home owners association I’m on, which can be pretty hysterical. (The latest brouhaha was about whether or not to allow swim diapers in the pool…it was a real cliff hanger.) But I decided that I might offend someone if they happened upon it, so no HOA blog.
I was stuck…no blog, no novel and no writing.
Then I was reading this silly little mystery novel and came across the following paragraph:
“Both he and Riker remembered their high school English teacher who regularly assigned the class to write a thousand words on such subjects as the weather, or breakfast, or the color green…as a student Qwilleran had done his share of groaning and protesting, but now he could write a thousand words on any subject at a moment’s notice.” (from The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun).
The paragraph stayed with me for days. Wouldn’t that be an incredible skill to have, or a great tool for your toolbox as they say in professional development sessions? I write grants for work and I’d love to be able to dash off one thousand words easily. And letters to donors would be a snap! Plus, maybe if I regularly wrote a thousand words I’d finally get off my butt and start that novel. So the One Thousand Words A Day Project was born. I am going to write one thousand words a day for one year.
I’ve enlisted my mother to come up with topics for me because I don’t want to stack the deck by picking topics that are really easy for me to write about or be able to think about a topic all day before writing. That seems like cheating. I told her that anything was game. (Although I asked her to please not choose peace in the Middle East because I really don’t understand anything about the Palestine and Israel conflict.) At first she was pretty hesitant, but I think she likes the idea now because she told me today that she has the first month’s worth of topics all ready to go. I also gave her this little book called The Writers Block that’s filled with topics to get you writing in case she gets stuck.
Other than writing every day, I only have two rules for this project:
The writing has to be exactly one thousand words. Not one over or under.
I can only edit for ten minutes when I’ve finished writing. I only want to check for typos and formatting, not edit each day into a finely crafted work of art.
I want to leave myself open to writing fiction or nonfiction just in case a subject sparks an idea for a thousand word short story.
I’m excited, but also a bit scared about undertaking this project. Will I have the time to write one thousand words every day? I have a rather demanding job and sometimes have to work long hours. Will I stick with it? I don’t have a great history of sticking with things like this. I work out every morning for three weeks and then give it up. I’ve taken singing, guitar, clarinet, drum and piano lessons, but can’t really play any of them. What makes me think I can do this? Well, I guess I don’t know that I can, but I want to try. It’s a writing adventure! And with that, I have reached my thousand words for tonight…