500 words

Last week, Ju and I headed south to a cosy stone barn in North Devon. It was a holiday we both needed.

I decided to disconnect. I don’t work on holidays but it’s rare that I completely shut off. I cut out email, RSS, Instapaper, even web-related books. Twitter was the only exception to the rule.

I expected to miss it. I didn’t.

In fact, I enjoyed the freedom and the peacefulness of it all. Not being connected, not constantly thinking about a project, or a new technique, or a new tool, or…

The web is fast-paced and keeping up is a full-time job in itself.

I spent most of the holiday reading and finally got round to finishing On Writing by Stephen King1. If you enjoy writing at all I’d recommend picking it up. While reading the book I realised that while I didn’t miss ‘work’, I did miss writing.

One part that I took away was the dedication he had to his craft. He reads for 4-6 hours a day (all good writers should read a lot, according to King) but more impressively, he writes 2,000 words a day. That’s not 2,000 words when he feels like it, or when inspiration hits, it’s every single day.

This reminded me of a brilliant Neil Gaiman quote:

“If you only write when you’re inspired you may be a fairly decent poet, but you’ll never be a novelist because you’re going to have to make your word count today and those words aren’t going to wait for you whether you’re inspired or not.

You have to write when you’re not inspired. And you have to write the scenes that don’t inspire you. And the weird thing is that six months later, a year later, you’ll look back at them and you can’t remember which scenes you wrote when you were inspired and which scenes you just wrote because they had to be written next.

The process of writing can be magical. Mostly it’s a process of putting one word after another.”

So — I’m setting myself a new challenge. Over the next month I’m going to write 500 words a day. I’m not writing a novel or even a short story (though I might). I’ll write whatever is on my mind. It might end up on this blog, it might not.

King’s book On Writing is basically a kick up the arse to turn up and start writing and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

  1. On Writing was the first book I’d read by Stephen King. I’ve since started 11.22.63. I’m already a fan.