Category Archives: Editing

Writing 500 Words Per Day – First Try

How long will it take to write 500 words?

That is the question. I am off on a quest to write 500 words a day, every day, until something substantial arises from the keyboarding. I am only one monkey pounding away, so I am curious to see how long it will take me to write the first 500 words.

Why write 500 words a day? There are plenty of writing programs out there that flog this concept. The number may be different, but the idea that remains constant is that to produce any manuscript you have to get words down on paper. Or characters up on the screen.

You simply write. If you have an idea in mind, great. If you’re adding to something already started, wonderful. If you’ve got nothing, just go. Just get those fingers tapping or pen scrawling. And do it every day.

Eventually, the theory goes, that writing will begin to coalesce into something. Ideas will form. Concepts will begin to glimmer through the mist. The more you write, the more likely you are to come up with something that will eventually be usable.

So where is my writing headed? Honestly, I’m not sure. I have a background in journalism, but I haven’t done newswriting for many years. I started a creative writing program at the university level some 30-odd years ago, and gave up after a few months. I switched to expository writing, and was happy there for the rest of the semester before going off to journalism school. So essays, reportage––those genres are certainly within my capabilities.

But there is also the lure of fiction. I love reading novels, why not write one? But that’s a daunting task. That’s also where the 500 words a day comes in. It’s a manageable chunk. It’s not dozens of pages, it’s not a chapter. I’ve taken a fiction workshop or two over the last few years, mostly from an editing standpoint because that’s my work. I’m a freelance editor. But I’ve also participated in some fiction writing workshops, and while I found them scary, I did quite well.

“Write an opening page for a novel this evening, and then we’ll come back tomorrow morning and share them.” Yikes! But I survived. I even got a fair bit of praise. But then that first page has been sitting untouched on my computer for a couple of years now.

But perhaps I could add to that page, 500 words at a time. See how that goes. All it takes is the discipline to do it. 500 words isn’t such a huge challenge, is it? I’m at 438 words on this page now, and that’s taken me six minutes.

Another approach that some of my Facebook friends were discussing recently is the timer technique. You get a cheap, simple kitchen timer, or use one on your phone or computer, and focus on activities in 30-minute chunks. Again the idea is to make the chunks manageable, and not something to be feared. So you, say, practice that guitar that you haven’t touched in years for 30 minutes a day.

Whoops! I’m done! I am now at 526 words, so I quit.

That wasn’t bad at all.

Now to just do it again. And again…

Word count: 547

Elapsed time: 8 minutes

UPDATE: July 9 – BTW I am not going to be posting my daily 500 words on this blog every day. Apologies if that’s what readers thought. While it might have been fun, I think a daily dose of unedited dreck would quickly become tiresome. However, if any 500-word session produces something I feel is worth sharing, I will post bits and pieces, and perhaps the occasional entire spew.