Friday, September 14, 2007

One word at a time

About a month ago, I looked around, realized that I was completely unpacked and hadn't done any furniture shopping in weeks, and sighed with relief because I might actually get back into a routine and get my word counts back to something respectable. (With perhaps a trace of panic because I could no longer use life chaos as an excuse.)

About a week ago, I realized that my word count was still insignificant, and that in fact it wasn't actually all that impressive before the move hit, anyway. Uh oh. (Word counts are a huge deal to a working writer, since word count ultimately puts a ceiling on your income. You can't publish something that hasn't been written yet.)

Lots of fretting about creativity and writer's block and similar concerns ensued. But somewhere in there the advice that I've heard (and given) so many times bubbled to the surface. "To increase your word count, you sit down and you write."

I had to admit the little voice had a point, so I tried it. My daily total doubled overnight. Whodathunkit?

Critics often sniff at such statements and point out that more does not mean better. Who cares how much you write if it's all sludge? It's funny how writing seems to be the only field where practice is frowned upon. Baseball players take extra batting practice to get back on track. Artists carry sketchbooks around. Stock traders eat sleep and breathe market information. Surgeons who specialize in particular operations have better outcomes. Yet writers seem to get the most respect when they are complaining about their inability to write. (An attitude that all too many writers-who-aren't-writing encourage.)

The thing is, the random neuron firings that we call the subconscious (and, if we're lucky, inspiration or genius) are more likely to happen if the brain has lots of material to build connections with. Write more (and read more), and you'll have more things to write about. Even if Sturgeon's Law applies, the more sludge you sift through the more likely you are to find gold.

I don't know how long this burst of productivity will last, so I'm not going to jinx myself by posting totals. For now, though, it feels like I've crawled out of a tunnel into the sunlight.

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