The most interesting aspect of Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsofSummer project, in which writers are invited to write 1000 words every day for two weeks, is the way it immediately quantifies how long 1000 words takes.
For me, it’s 90 minutes minimum.
That’s if I want 1000 words of any caliber, and over the past few days, I’ve watched the words in my NEXT BOOK draft decrease in caliber somewhat.
Here’s an example of the kind of draft I write when I take my time:
Robin had taken a step forward and Ellen had stopped walking and now they stood, nearly eye-to-eye, Ellen a few inches taller.
Here’s an example of the kind of draft I write when I want to hit a fixed word count and have a limited amount of time in which to do it:
“Ellen!” he said. “What a pleasure!” He rushed to her; she had still not moved.
It’s the same character and the same action (Robin is moving towards Ellen, who is standing still for METAPHORICAL AND THEMATIC REASONS), but the #1000WordsofSummer version feels weaker. Thinner. Rushed, to borrow the word I already used.
And sure, I could go back and rework it all, and I’ll probably have to, but one thing I’ve learned about myself as a writer is that I’m not that much of a rewriter. I do a lot of the prep work in my head and in a separate notes document, and then I put it all together on the page.
Plus, my freelancing work has taught me that whatever I write is probably going to be published as-is, for the whole world to see, in, like, an hour—so I’ve learned how to churn out publication-ready drafts.
The stuff I’m writing now is not publication-ready. I’m tempted to give up on the word count goal so I won’t have to rework everything later, but I’m also tempted to just keep following the #1000WordsofSummer plan for the next 10 days, because it only lasts until July 1, and see what happens.
Because… why not? Maybe I’ll learn something new. ❤️