While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bonus Day 2008

Today is the 29th of February.

For my next door neighbour growing up, this means it’s her first birthday since 2004.

For guys this means 'Watch out, your girlfriend could propose.'

For me it means, 'Write.' After all, these extra twenty-four hours, wedged into what has always seemed to me an unfairly shortened month, are the reason I am shooting for an average of 2732 words per day rather than 2740 words. (My cavalier rounding is a bit misleading: technically, the difference is 7.4855902 words, but let's just call it eight). What is eight words? Twice that last sentence. Or: the sum of the previous two sentences. Nothing, right?

If there's anything two months of regular writing—and running along side that: regular word-counting—has taught me, it's words accumulate best when you are writing for some other purpose. Writing to get an idea down on paper. Writing to finish a story to submit for a competition. Writing an email in response to a 'How's Things' from someone on the underside of the world.

Writing for the sake of word counts is not cool.

But there are only so many deadlines, and fresh ideas and surprise emails. Most days, it's a slog to 2732. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week I made it to 2185, 2180 and 2020 words. That’s a pretty tight cluster and a long way from target. Over these three days I worked on an average of 3 different short stories per day, adding as little as 135 words each time. While mired in these piecemeal compositions, it feels like I'm going nowhere (in three separate races). But when I stop and look at my spreadsheet on special days like this, there is movement. Overall, I tacked 4,100 words onto five different works in progress in those three days, bringing one to completion (and I finished another today).

But there is still the concern that too many of these words are bad words. That entire stories should never see the light of day. That this whole venture is doing more harm than good (to my sanity, to my writing, to my posture).

Meh. I don’t like the Craig who talks like that.

To prove to myself and to the YoaMW regulars (though nothing is called regular anymore; maybe you should be called my Extra Larges?) that 8 words a day means something, I am going to write a story 8 words at a time, with one instalment for every day of March. This will produce a 248 word story. I'm going to run it along my the top of the blog. Since it's still February, I have no idea what the story will be. That will have to come tomorrow.

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