cat on keyboard

Writing: Calisthenics for the Imagination

cat on keyboard
If this kitty can write a novel, so can you.
(Slava/Wikimedia Commons)

Right now I should be writing. And no, this blog post doesn’t count. I should be writing my novel. So, what am I doing here? And if I love my novel so much why is sitting down and making myself write so hard?

Because it matters. Because I want the story I punch into the keyboard to be as thrilling as the one inside my head. But mostly? Because I’m out of shape. Mentally that is. My imagination is not much different from my body, it functions better when I flex it regularly. Sure, not every day is a winner. I may have put in the time and produced the words diligently but they’re not words I would want anyone to read. I’m my best when I let those words be imperfect and move on. I will give them the full Cinderella makeover in the next draft.

I discovered this last November when I participated in NaNoWriMo (national novel-writing month). The first week or so was painful. I stressed and I felt that everything I wrote was terrible then something amazing happened: I became so entrenched in the story that the movie inside my head finally began to spill on the page. I stopped looking back, stopped fussing over the line or two that didn’t sound quite right and I accomplished some of my bravest writing.

Now this all makes me sound like I’ve got this whole writing thing all figured out and I assure you, that I have not. Since nano I have fallen out of the habit of pushing myself to go to that mental gym every day and work out. My imagination has a beer gut. And while I did win NaNoWriMo at 50,000 words completed I still have another 30,000 some odd words to write before my novel is complete. I think the hardest part for me is making myself sit down and do the work. So, this is where you come in. Part of what I loved about nano was the community. I loved posting my word count and being encouraged and inspired by so many other writers. So, be my workout buddy. Let’s write everyday and starting today I will post every Thursday to give you my updated word count and my weekly progress. You comment back with the same. You ready? Let’s do this.

Weekly word count: 55,206
Goal for next Thursday: 60,000

Now I want to hear from you: Is writing every day a challenge for you? And if not, how do you stay motivated?

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11 thoughts on “Writing: Calisthenics for the Imagination”

  1. One of the things you can also do is write blindfolded if you’re having a hard time keeping yourself from reading or editing what you’ve written. I used to do that when I was starting out. It adds a new dimension to the writing experience. It was a blast for me anyway. You can try just for the sake of it. Who knows, you might like it.

  2. A great post and a good point. I try to write 6 days a week, with a rest on Sunday so as I don’t burn out. I love writing, but I am the same as you, everything I write has to be great or I get upset about it. I forget the fact that the first draft isn’t supposed to be perfect 😀

    I am training myself to get better at just writing something down, and worrying about how great it is later. As long as I get a skeleton draft out, I can work on fleshing it out and making it great later 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment. That is a great schedule and I think giving yourself a day off is a good idea.

      Training myself not to edit what I’ve already written has been difficult. I’ve given myself an out. If I know that I want to change something I’ve already written or rework it, I highlight it and write a comment or leave a note in my outline for future Hayley to take care of in revision (future Hayley is going to have her work cut out for her lol).

      1. I’ve recently completed two novel-length projects. Now I’m working on two more along with a chapter book plus a collection of short stories. All of which to be done by june or july of this year (there’s no hurry but it’s just a self-imposed deadline) I like to work fast on a project otherwise I get easily distracted, and, god forbid, bored.
        Good luck with your novel by the way, I know the hardship that comes with doing that.

        1. I really need to finish my book. I’ve been working on it for far too long and I have so many other projects I’d like to get started on. Any advice on how to push through that last leg of the journey?

          1. Depends really on your writing regimen. I think 30000 words can easily be knocked down in two or three weeks, if you really just dive into it headlong without being too self-conscious about the writing itself. It’s a first draft after all. What matters is to put it down on paper. You can always fix it later.
            My advice? Write and write and write and don’t even think about reading what you have written until you’re finished. (It’s tempting to go back and read and fix things as we write along but abstain if you can.)
            That’s how I do it anyway. I don’t know how other writers do it.

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