The Routine, Part II

Today is day 7 of 1000 Words of Summer, the annual writing challenge started by Jami Attenberg, during which thousands of people commit to writing 1000 words a day and then cheer each other on via social media and a gigantic group Slack. We’re halfway through and I’m doing it — writing 1000 words a day! — and it’s magical. 

I haven’t been IN scenes like this in a long time, just letting characters take the lead and following them where they want to go. Letting the work surprise me. This is my favorite kind of writing, and I had kind of forgotten what it was like. Maybe because I started this novel by trying to stick with a plot outline. Even when I finally ditched the plot, part of me felt beholden to it, or like I should at least know where I wanted to end up. 

But writing doesn’t work that way for me. My best writing happens when I can get two characters in a space and just play. What is the weirdest thing she could do next? And what is the most surprising thing he could say? Great, now what object could come crashing through the window? 

And that is what sticking to a high word count forces me to do. Because my writing time is limited, I just sit down at the computer and start typing. Don’t think, just type. And if I don’t hit my word count by the time the kid wakes up, get more words in later on the phone. (Phone writing — a whole other topic for another day!)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how my routine has been in flux, and how I wanted to get back to being the anytime, all-the-time writer I was when I was younger, when every little pocket of time was the perfect time to write. This week, I have worked on the novel at my desk, at my mom’s house (in Rockford — another topic for another day!), in an airport terminal, on a plane, in a Lyft, while walking back from daycare drop-off, while eating lunch. And the more often I work on it, the more ideas there are. 

One more week of 1000 Words of Summer, but maybe I’ll just keep this going until my draft is finished? Why not.