It’s just five-hundred words. Write five-hundred words each day consistently. That seems simple enough, especially for someone who usually enjoys writing. Without a doubt I can speak five-hundred words a day. Producing five-hundred words a day beats producing five-hundred dollars per day or five-hundred homemade cookies per day. So, why, then do I sit here not knowing where to begin? Why do the backspace and delete buttons win more often than the save and print keys?
Consistently write your daily word quota. This is the advice given to the amateur, to the unpublished, to the aspiring writer, by the knowing, successful, seasoned and published authors who suggest I write when I feel inspired and more importantly, when I don’t. Eventually, they claim, when I look back and re-read my work, the difference will be unnoticeable anyway.
So, the disciplined writer persists whether they feel eager or indifferent, optimistic or doubtful, insightful or clueless. I know how to persist. Persevering is nothing new to me. I persevered in a difficult marriage for decades, raising two boys. I cared for my needy, unhappy, elderly in-laws who lived with me for nine years. Over the past five years, I’ve trained for and completed several long-distance races including ultra-marathons. I understand what it feels like to continue when you want to quit. But (my) writing has been more of an emotional and inspirational outcome. It has been a source of relief, clarity, sanity and freedom. The idea of writing something meaningful without feeling hopeless, angry or lonely, challenges me. Raw desperation defined my best work. To believe I can successfully write each day when life is (now) good, happy, loving, even fun, is a vast difference from the reflections of my past experiences. It’s a new chapter (pardon the pun) in my real life as well as in my writing life.
If I had a story to tell, a dramatic novel with characters longing to be discovered, a thickening plot with climactic surprises then, perhaps a consistent, daily word quota would be easier. But this non-fictional writer has only experiences, observations and a little insight to share. Doubt and dismissal often barge through my door of creativity and plunder my thoughts, scattering them like a thief turning a room of treasured belongings upside down and casting them away as insignificant rubbish.
Regardless of those thieves, I am still compelled to write. Admittedly, my writing has been inconsistent, which is the reason I’m reading and seeking advice from those who share this passion. My desire to succeed requires this first step of just doing it. So whether I believe it is possible for me to produce five-hundred credible words per day, I shall at least listen to the experts and give it a try. Like the seasoned runners who helped me cross the finish line with their knowing advice, I will trust this simple (yet challenging) suggestion to write consistently and perhaps in the days ahead, I will not feel the need to click the ‘word count’ tool button as often to see if I’ve met my quota.