Happy One-Year to Me!

Aaaand it’s OUTTA HERE!

About what am I raising such a fuss?

Actually, I am not entirely sure. That sounded like a baseball metaphor and, frankly, I don’t DO baseball.

Well, whatever.

In other news, my first year of taking this writing thing seriously draws to a close. Every day, I have put in at least my minimum expectation of work. About every month, my minimum expectation has increased at a steady pace.

One day, if I’m rich enough to afford the distraction, I will probably write a book about how I stopped screwing around and started finding success in my writing. It seems to be the thing to do, at least.

For the moment, I can sum it up in one pithy phrase borrowed from my cultural heritage:

Slow and steady wins the race.

This slow, almost minuscule progression model that the Magic Spreadsheet encourages allows the disciple to make small accomplishments that are meaningful in the long run. At the start, squeezing out 250 words a day can be fine one day and excruciating the next.

Eventually, within a couple weeks, there is at least an even distribution to the good and bad days.

Then after a month of consistent writing, of hitting your small goal, the spreadsheet says, “Hey, you know what? Great work hitting that goal for a month straight. Why don’t you try doing 50 more words a day instead?”

And, oh, that tricksy mind tries to weasel its way out of it, but willpower steps in and says, “C’mon, guys, fifty more words isn’t that much.” And willpower is right… at least at first.

I concede that there might be a point where I have to plateau on my expectations. I don’t think I’m anywhere near that point right now, though. I require 800 words a day* from myself at the moment. That can be tough, but I always get it done, because not so long ago I required 750 words a day,no why not step it up that small amount?

*[A recent change to the Magic Spreadsheet adds a pomodoro feature that allows users to get credit for work done even when words were not added, such as editing. A pomodoro is typically a 25-minute session followed by a 5-minute break. At my current level, I am required to so 6 of these sessions, so in essence, put in 3 hours worth of work. I have utilized this feature on,y a few times when it seemed appropriate for the work at hand.]

That’s pretty exciting to me. It’s exciting because it is real progress that I can track. Words in various documents splattered all across my platters is one thing, but they make it hard to keep up with just how much work I am doing. This method gives me a raw number (and points!) to help quantify my accomplishments.

It has been a long year. Many nights, I stayed up late, hunched over my keyboard, trying to figure out how to squeeze verbal blood from a calcified brain. There may have been some wailing and gnashing of teeth. But I did it, each and every day.

On the other hand…

It has been a very short year. Time tends to fly by when you have a routine, so the writing each day sometimes blurs together. Plus, a lot of time has passed, and I still struggle to make progress on some projects that I had hoped would be wrapped up… quite some time ago. I’m getting better at moving forward on projects. At least, I am in theory.

The next year, I suspect, will be harder on me as a writer. Disregarding the increase in raw work output that will come as a part of my personal writing fitness program, I have now made a significant accomplishment. I mean, I kept up the writing for a whole year, right? Maybe it’s time to take a break.

It isn’t, of course. That’s not how my brain works. That’s how my brain STOPS working.

I think the main trouble is going to be that I will start to have a wider array of responsibilities in the near future. I’m going to start submitting stories on a more regular basis and push myself to be more Writer online than Just a Guy. Or maybe it would be better to say I will try to be Just a Guy Who Is Also a Writer. (The JAGWIAAW Association is hardly an exclusive club, but I hope to make my mark there nonetheless.)

The other responsibility I’m adding to my plate is trying to pull together my ideas for the webcomic I would like to create. It has been simmering for some time, and I think I feel confident enough to start coalescing ideas into something a bit more substantial. I do not think I will let anyone see it (i.e. post anything online, start publishing it) until I have a good sized buffer.

It’s been a tough year.

Next year will be a tough year.

But I look forward to it all the same.

Now, Heidi and I shall celebrate with homemade pizza (mmm, pepperoni) and Borderlands (mmm, co-op).

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