How to Write 3000 Words a Day

Or 1000, or whatever you think your best goal is. In the middle of National Novel Writing Month, of course, these things are more on my mind. But what I have to say works for me–your mileage may vary, as always.

I am not good at walking for exercise. Well, that’s not strictly true. I’m not good at starting. I’ll groan and moan and lack motivation, I’ll bewail the fact that I need to change shoes, or set up a different walking playlist on my iPod, or that the trail is at least ten minutes drive away, is it worth it for an hour’s walk? In short, I’ll find anything I can that stops me, and I have to really force myself to do it. This gets easier if I’m in the habit–if I walk every day at 1 pm, for example.

But if I can actually get myself to the trail, the first ten minutes are a real pain. My arthritic hips ache, my feet hurt from yesterday’s walking, my hands are cold, and I keep thinking that was enough, let’s go back now. But if I can keep going through that ten minutes, suddenly things are better. Endorphins release, my body accepts that we’re going to do this and lets go of resources it’s been hanging on to. My hands warm up, pain recedes, my stride loosens, and suddenly I’m having fun. I wonder why on earth I don’t do this every day, and why it’s so hard to make myself get going. I’m walking on the beat of the music. I walk because I can’t dance. Look: the leaves are falling, the sky is gorgeous, there are birds, flowers, this is joy, it’s joy.

Writing’s the same. I tell myself that if I can get my word count to 800 words, then if I still want to stop I can stop. By the time I get to 1000 words, I’ve forgotten I wanted to stop and things are just rolling. Next time I look up I’m at 3000 words. (That’s when my faulty third-party battery zaps out and I thank the powers that be for auto-save, but that’s beside the point.) I don’t want to stop anymore, and I growl at real life for rudely intruding. I promise myself that next time I sit down I won’t complain.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Word Count: 3246


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