Back on the ninth of June, I decided that it would be a good idea to set myself a challenge: write 62 thousand words in 62 days. What was the significance of 62 days at that point? It was the time between June ninth and my 25th birthday. I wanted to write one thousand words per day and end up with the better part of a novel by my 25th.
I decided that it would be a good idea to set myself this challenge, and I was right. The idea I was working with was really with me through every minute of every day and though I was diligently trying to practice restraint and fully plan the piece before writing, I was developing an itch. I wanted to see my characters take real, tangible form on the page – I wanted to write and read their dialogue and how they observe the world. I wanted to see how they in practice would differ from the ideas of them I had in my head.
So, I set about it. One thousand words per day, seven days per week.
Back in the summer of 2020, when I got a break from my constant lockdown lethargy, I was hitting a real, solid writing streak. Every week I was writing between 2,000 to 4,000+ words, mashing my goals every session. By weeks’ end, I’d have well over 10 thousand words, often nearer to fifteen thousand or more. And it felt good. I’d fully planned something out and I think in the end I’d gotten between 60-70 thousand words of a first draft on paper.
And then all the weight of 2020 came crashing down again. And I wasn’t feeling good. But I’m feeling better now.
As much as I love a challenge and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with achieving goals, I decided to be easy on myself from the offset. I now work five days a week, nine to five, and spend weekends with my partner, or with family, or friends, especially now that the world is really reopening. I would definitely try to get some words down each day – if it was more than zero, I would be happy.
But then the first zero happened.
And then another zero happened.
And boy did the zeroes keep happening.
How can you be surprised, Holly? You’re not writing, how else do you expect the words to appear on the page? How dare you ask me that.
It has been….a while and I haven’t written anything for this particular project. I still have a little while before my birthday, so while I’m certain I won’t reach my 62 thousand word goal, I think I could still get some more words down towards my goal.
But what was the problem? How did this all fall apart?
Well, as said, I’ve had to re-prioritize my time. I have a job and a lot of catching up with the outside world to do. Aside from that, despite all the many years I’ve been writing and thinking about writing, I guess I still haven’t found the exact way I like to write longer form pieces. I don’t know if I actually prefer to write notes and plans out completely before writing my prose, or if I just want to get into it and plan along the way.
A while ago, if I had missed so many days on a challenge like this, I would have been utterly beside myself. I would have felt useless and devastated and beyond disappointed in myself. Don’t get me wrong, fucking this challenge the way I have has in no way, shape, or form made me happy, but I’m practicing being kinder to myself. One thing I do know about myself is that tough-lough and forcing my passion doesn’t really work for me. It just makes me feel like a sad little puppy. So instead I’m going to give myself time, and push myself to be better the next time I try something like this. Temper my expectations, pay attention to when I’m most inspired and productive, and bank on that.
My ultimate goal and dream in life is to be a career author. It won’t happen for me this year, but I firmly believe I have too much passion and ambition, and I’ve spent too much time trying too hard for my dream to go to waste. Passion and desire can go a long way, and as long as I back those things up with action, I know that I’ll get where I want to be. Sooner than I think, probably.
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I just finished reading A Girl is a Half-Formed thing! I really enjoyed it – it was a difficult read in a lot of different ways, but is a timeless classic in the making, and an essential read. Buying a copy through this link is affiliated to me.