I remember so clearly setting up the progress bar for Tally the Betrayals. I’d already written 4,000 words, and I’d been reporting my word-count-per-day all through those 4,000 words to a writer friend.
Me: “I think I’ve done most of the research and world building I need in order to start writing. I think I’ll start next week!”
Friend: “Start tomorrow!”
Me: “Huh. I suppose I could.”
That was a Wednesday. I did, indeed, start Thursday, and it felt great. I’d been focused on publishing tasks (covers, blurbs, etc.) for many months. Then I went through the medical emergency of a retinal tear. And then I had a troll citadel to design. 😀
It had been 5 months since I’d done any writing. I missed it. But I felt wobbly. What if I’d forgotten how?
I hadn’t forgotten how, of course. I think writing is a bit like bicycle riding. Once you know how, you don’t forget.
But I felt like I needed training wheels! So I reported to my writer friend that first week.
“Only 300 words today, but I started.”
“Better today: 800 words.”
“Now I’m getting into the rhythm: 1,200 words.”
When I reached 4,000 words, I realized that I shouldn’t lean on my friend through the entire 120,000 to 160,000 words that my novel would require. (Tally felt like a longish book to me.)
And, really, I didn’t need that much propping up. But I’d really liked reporting my word count to someone. I found it motivating and encouraging.
Just saying, “I wrote 1,600 words today,” to someone other than myself felt like getting a treat.
So I decided to set up a public progress bar on my website.
I worried that I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do so. (Google is your friend.)
I worried that I wouldn’t like it once I’d set it up. (“You can always take it down again, J.M.”)
I worried I would disappoint those of my blog readers who watched that progress bar, when there were days that I didn’t make much progress.
But I wanted to do it. So I did!
And you know what? It worked beautifully for me.
I did figure out how to create a progress bar. I plan to blog about that process soon.
And I love updating my progress bar each day. “See, I did write 1,200 words today! Really!”
I’ve also enjoyed seeing the darker blue color that indicates words written slide farther and farther to the right. It was a very tangible marker, more so – for me – than seeing the page count grow in my manuscript file.
Now, as I look at the 113,000+ word count and the 94% slider bar visual, I feel amazed that I am almost finished.
“How can this be? It feels like just yesterday that I was putting up that progress bar with 4,000 words!”
But I am close to the finish. And, as is usual for me, I’m finding my story to be intense, engrossing, and hard-to-put-down. If only my brain didn’t become soggy with fatigue, I’d write far into the night, saying, “Just one more page,” the way a reader does when reading a good book.
But my brain ceases to hold the necessary edge around 5 PM or so. Sometimes I’m so beguiled by the events in my story that I push until 7 PM, but that’s rare. Better to get a good evening’s rest and a good night’s sleep, and start fresh in the morning.
As I write this blog post, it is 7:15 AM, and I am sitting out on my back deck – as I do each morning to keep my circadian rhythm in sync with the sun. But now it’s been half an hour.
I’m going to go in, eat breakfast, and get started writing Tally for the day!
I can’t wait! Gael – accountant to the “dark lord” in my “dark tower” – is going to make a crushing discovery in this scene! 😀
(No, Tally does not really have a “dark lord.” It has someone much more interesting!)