Sunday, January 4, 2009

How to Make A Million

I feel safe within the arms of love's discovery

The idea of "productivity" goals with regards to writing have always seemed a bit absurd to me, although I've always set them for myself (you'll find little bits of hypocrisy like this hidden all throughout my personal philosophy). Accumulating a page or word count is all well and good, but if it is all garbage, who cares? On the other hand, I've always been of the belief that effort properly applied can and will achieve results, and I've got trust myself enough to know that if I produce X amount of pages, at least Y will be worthwhile in some capacity. Then there's the idea that creativity is a muscle that can be exercised, so with a certain amount of reps or laps put it you can bulk up the ole brain, and with continued conditioning your output becomes at once more powerful, and you can sustain that output longer. There's plenty of books out on this subject, some good, most bad, and I've read dozens and dozens of them over the years. All I know is that certain things work for me, and I like to make "tweaks" here and there as I go on in the spirit of continuous process improvement. Some of my bold new writing initiatives work, others are glorious failures. But because, I think, that my starting position is: writing is incredibly fun, the improvements I try to make become fun as well.

A few years ago I initiated a goal of writing three thousand words a day, admittedly an aggressive number for me (although a walk in the park for many writers). I included "creative nonfiction" writing towards the goal, so blogs and articles would count, but not emails (even though I can write a pretty darn creative email). I'm a very sloppy writer, one who tends to "bleed all over the page" as I move towards the end of the story, and so this method worked pretty well for me. I found that it was critical for me to get the story "out", and once the story was out I was relaxed enough to go back and begin my editorial process.I read somewhere that Dean Koontz works in a very different way; he will work and work and work a single page until he finds it perfect before moving on. There are plenty of other variations to the idea of targeting a daily word or page count, all the way from "one true sentence" to thousands and thousands of words.

I wasn't consistent with the 3K a day. Many days I missed the mark, but on other days, when I entered a weird trance-like state and the words came easily I could sail beyond that mark (and yes, I used the Hemingway trick of stopping in the middle of a sentence). Overall, though, I'd say there were many more days where I fell short than when I hit it.

Sitting down last week and reviewing the 2009 plan, I realized that 3000 words a day would be over a million words a year. Imagine that--a million words.

This idea excites me.

Now, I'm not advocating quantity over quality. I'm certain that only a fraction of those million words will be "usable" in the sense of being able to be published. And I've no idea how this will effect my ability to edit afterwards--maybe the increased word count will only lead me to wasting far, far more time on the other side trying to decipher and decode what I've produced. Maybe instead of developing muscles that will enable me to write better books, I'll in effect be running in the wrong direction. But--a million words! How cool would that be?

I think I read somewhere that Stephen King's method was a daily dose of"four hours writing, four hours reading". I have a feeling he does more than that in either category--because he clearly loves both reading and writing. A few years ago I set a reading goal of two books a week, and since them I've exceeded that every year.
Maybe 3K a Day will lead to great things, or just a giant headache.

Either way, it will be fun to find out. I'm already two thousand behind this year, so I better get crackin'.

5 comments:

Whittney.R said...

Hi Daniel, I wanted to thank you for writing This most fawsome book! I am so excited for the releas of the next book Kiss of Life I am shure It will be a work of art just like the first book Generation Dead. i would like to know if you will be doing any aperences in Wisconsion this year and if you would read my blog and tell me what you think of it. That would just be the most Fawsome thing ever!!!!!!!


Nessie .aka. Whittney.R

Jessica said...

Hey Dan!

Can I call you Dan?

good.

Anywho, just wanted to say thanks a lot for what you do.

You distract me from cleaning my room and I like that.

M'k.

That's all.

I'm done.

seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hi. My friend gave me Generation Dead to borrow back in November 08. I finished it in 4 high school classes, without getting in trouble I am glad to say. I ended up going out and buying it for myself in December. The thought hit me earlier today at school..

I was wondering with Kiss of Life; could I possibly send you the money for the book, and you could sign it for my friend's birthday? Of course it would be after it came out, I am not asking for the book early. I know you must be busy writing. He is turning 17 in March and would absolutely love it. I am trying to get him so extra special presents. If you could comment back, or email which I could give you if you wanted, it would be much appreciated.

Thank you..

~~Cal

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Nessie aka Whitney!

Thank you! Nothing schedule for Wisconsin, but the future is unwritten! If the plans change I'll be sure and update the schedule.

Take care,
Dan

Hi Jessica!

You can call me Dan, absolutely. But go clean your room!

Take care,
Dan

Hi Cal!

Thanks fer yer business! Please don't send any money! But I'm sure we can figure something out for your friend. Email me at TommyWilliams17 at aol dot com and will figure it out.

Take care,
Dan

KaitlynDoud said...

dear, Daniel is Tommy really exploring if he is i really want him to to Delevan NY, 14042 its beautiful out there it really is and that's were i live too its wonderful to see cool things out here too! PLEASE SEND HIM HERE AND PIONEER HIGH SCHOOL IS A FUN PLACE TO BE ON MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY!!! IT WOULD BE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I REALLY WANT TO MEET TOMMY AND THE OTHERS TOO!!!!!!!