This blog post marks a major achievement in my writing.
At the beginning of the year, I joined the Get Your Words Out online community of writers. In order to sign up, you have to pledge to write a certain number of words over the course of the year. They also have to be certain kinds of words – not just random scribbles in a private journal, but actual progress on works of fiction, or blog posts intended for public consumption. Now, on looking at the available pledges, I was somewhat dismayed to discover that the lowest number open to me was 150,000 words. At the time, this seemed pretty much out of the realms of possibility, but I decided to sign up anyway and do my best. At the very least, it would mean a new tracking spreadsheet to add to my collection.
I’m so glad I did. The community has been fun, supportive and motivational. I’ve made friends, taken up challenges, played bingo, hosted discussions, and generally found the structure and target-setting to be hugely beneficial in my productivity. Tracking my word count on a weekly basis, and logging it with GYWO every month has focused my writing and prompted me to make more and more effort to find and schedule time for it. Plus, I’ve met people who will encourage me to spend more time writing, as well as providing feedback on the things I produce. In particular, I now have a regular writing buddy to spend every free Monday afternoon with, drinking tea and putting words on the page.
And, unexpectedly, this very sentence includes the 150,000th word I have written this year!
I really didn’t think I could do it – and it turns out I have, with a whole month to spare!
Of course, just because I’ve written 150,000 words in eleven months doesn’t mean those words are any good. And focusing too much on quantity is never going to result in good quality. But, they are 150,000 words that weren’t in existence a year ago, and that feels like quite an achievement in and of itself. More important are the actual stories those words make up – the individual works of fiction, the building and maintaining of this website, the submissions that have led to actual publication. I have no idea how much of that I would have achieved without GYWO, but I’m pretty certain it wouldn’t have been nearly as much.
So, now I have December to add to my total – and I’m certainly not going to rest on my laurels, just because I’ve reached my target for 2016. I’m also very definitely going to sign up for GYWO again next year. I’ve thought about upping my pledge to the 200,000 target, but I’ve decided against that. I probably could do it, but I think it would be putting too much pressure on myself and creating too much of a focus on the number itself, rather than the writing. I’ll hope to do more than my pledged 150,000 words again in 2017, but mostly I’ll look forward to engaging with the wonderful GYWO community again, as it has added so much enjoyment to my writing this year.
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