(This post was originally written on 750words.com. It has been edited.)
Another day, another 750 words. It’s really not that hard. That’s what I keep telling myself. This is my training, my cardio. The real work happens on the road, but this is where I keep up my fingers, my brain, my ideas for when the real work starts. I rather like having a place where all I have to do is ramble. There are no rules. It’s an excuse to just think, to just type, to just try things out and see how they feel.
I like seeing that row of Xs in boxes. It hasn’t been that long yet, but already I like it. It’s like my notebooks. Even before I started filling them, I liked the idea of having a row of them on my bookshelves some day. Right now, they’re in a box in my closet, but I know they’re there. Eventually, when I have a place of my own, they’ll have their own shelf in my bedroom. Right next to my bed, I think. Then I can grab one when I need a reminder that I am good, that I do have great ideas, that I have things to write about.
There’s no such thing as writer’s block. I don’t remember if I’ve ever claimed writer’s block, but I’ve never believed in it as much as some people. I’ve been in writing classes where students used it as an excuse for not having their assignments written. That’s bullshit. That’s just lazy. I’ve always had a problem making word count, but that wasn’t writer’s block. That’s my sparse style coming up against a requirement. It’s tough to make 10 pages when your story is only nine.
I think I want to call something new littleroom. If that’s available. After The White Stripes song. Because when you’re in your little room, and working on something good, if it’s really good, you’re gonna need a bigger room. That’s what I want. I want to get out of my little room and into the bigger one. That’s the goal.
Every day, I throw out a bunch of ideas. Character things, setting things, theme things. Maybe an idea of a scene. Whatever’s rumbling around my head at that particular moment. For thirty days, it’s just ideas. Then, I pick thirty of them to write the next month. A list of ideas, just like a list of prompts. Just 500 words every day. That’s the minimum. Of course, if I go over, that’s no big deal. But 500 words is all I need. For another thirty days. At the end of those days, I go back to the beginning. Each 500 word story gets another 500 words. It may be at the beginning, the end, or shoved somewhere in the middle. Taking one tiny moment that I love and expanding it. Like a fractal. For thirty days, each 500 word story becomes 1000 words. Then 1500 words. Then 2000. Hopefully, I can keep this up for a year, then even more. At the end of a year, each story will be 5500 words long. That’s about as long as I can write one story. I’ve never made it over ten thousand. That’s the first big goal to writing a novel. First, you just have to crack the word count.
This is like that story about the farmer lifting a whole cow. He bets a man that at the end of a year, he can lift a fully grown cow. Of course, the key is to start with a baby. Every day, he lifts the baby. The baby grows and he keeps lifting, but because it’s only a tiny bit more every day, he can do it. Eventually, he’s lifting 500 pounds without even thinking about it.
This project, and 750 words is like that. Every day, it’s a little bit. After a while, you don’t even think about it.