Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Year's Resolutions and the Whats-Its That Coincide Therein

Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it's so hurtful to think about writing.  - Heather Armstrong

It is undoubtedly too late to wish everyone a happy New Year.  It is, in fact, about nineteen days too late -- give or take a few hours.  So I won't do that.  You've already doffed the celebratory paper cone from your head, so saying "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" will only make people wonder if I had lost my mind.  I haven't.  In case you were wondering.

Much has happened since I last wrote here.  Almost an entire month has passed, and so far my inability to keep a blog has been a frustrating spur in my side.  It's not as if I don't think about the blog, because I do.  It's just that I am always so busy.  I am writing more.  More than I had last year, thanks to the Inkygirl's 1000 Words A Day Challenge.  Many people don't like the idea of chaining oneself to a chair and forcing a thousand words out where nothing is to be found, but I've found the excersize to yield considerable results thus far.  Let me tell you a little about my experience twenty days in...

Where I work we have daily meetings where we talk about what we are doing for the day, and essentially just touching base with the people we work around.  We all like each other so these meetings usually break away from the standard mold and really into just whatever we would like to talk about.  December thirtieth was one of those days.  The group leader (very informal title) asked us what our New Year's Resolutions were.  Most of the answers were things like getting finances in order, excersizing more, getting more work done... the usual.  When it was my turn, I told everyone that I was set to write one thousand words a day, six days a week, for the entire year.  I garnered that they had not expected the response.  They knew I was a writer (not yet an author... I will call myself that after I can get something published) so they knew that I dabbled, but I think they were a little thrown off by such an austere goal.  Even to me the idea of penning one thousand words a day, every day, seemed like an unreachable goal, and I believe that's why I chose it.

That day I started.  Too eager to get cracking on my resolution, I started two days early. By the time I was done writing on the thirtieth of December, I had written about two thousand words, and proud of myself.  Carrying that momentum onward, I wrote a similar amount on the thirty first.  On New Year's morning, I was up at 6am, writing at my coffee house, happy as the proverbial clam.  The journey is not an easy one.  There are days where I easily write for five or six hours and accomplish only a handfull of words, but it doesn't dissuade me.  I have taken to writing short stories longhand as well.  I have found it to whet my writing, creating sharp contrasts with the purple prose I can use in my WIP.  It makes my writing minimalistic as I have to measure out each sentence and how it fits into the others, and it makes me feel more important to the story.  Perhaps it is the simplicity of toiling in one's work that is the harbinger of these sentiments, I cannot be sure, but I do enjoy drafting out story with my hand aching and screaming for me to stop.  Probably not a good thing that I find the pain pleasurable, but when I have written thirteen pages in longhand, my fingers are smudged and black, my hand aches, and I have a big smile plastered across my face.  Catharsis.

That paragraph devolved, I know. In many ways, that has been mirroring my own journey through my one thousand words a day challenge.  My devolution to truer writing through the constant need to show a scene, characters, action, destruction or build-up, resolution.  A thousand words does not allow a writer to mess around, and to stop from getting bored, there is always new things that I like to add.  New challenges to overcome every one-thousand words.  It makes the pace frantic, the writing pop, and the gray rock around my own voice to constantly be chipped away.  

So far, I am pleased with the progress.  It hasn't always worked.  There have been days that I haven't written at all, and others that I have been entirely unable to get to the 1000, but the idea is still there.  It is a spirit of that ephemeral, translucent No.2 that keeps me in check and has kept my furnace for the art of writing in check.  So far, this is what my journey has led me to:
  • 7,000 words in my MS.
  • Two finished short stories (each over 5,000 words a piece)
So far, the journey has been good, and I have written more than my 16,000 words. (I have scheduled off Sundays, but I have only successfully not thought about writing for one of those)  I say this not to brag, but because my last post was on the want of being able to congratulate myself on good writing.  It's not as if the blog has followers, so I don't feel bad in tapping out this little bit of Self-Congratulatorialism.

And if you did actually read all of this, thank you. 


P.S. - I update my progress on my twitter (@OHNOITSKEN) where you can keep up-to-date with my writerly endeavors.


  1. Congrats on your progress so far, Ken!


  2. Hi Ken! Randomly, I found your blog via the Paris Review twitter feed.... and I'm glad I did. I'm trying to get more habitual about my writing, because unlike you, I can barely even call myself a writer... mostly I just think about writing, but hardly set aside the time to do so. So thanks for the inspiration - I especially like the physical toil you describe when doing it long-hand! Best of luck - interested to hear of your progress.

    (When I decide to resume my blog, you can find it at malibuingenue.blogspot). Keep up the good work!