Beyond Writer’s Angst: 17.000 Words Written and 5 Lessons Learned

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“Totally killed it.” Credit: Ellie Maloney

Writer’s angst over the word count is such a common thing. 17.000 words in a month may or may not be impressive to someone. To me –  it is one hell of an accomplishment, and I attribute it to the following factors:

  • Ellie Maloney ≡ Jalapeño Fiction blog (this blog), because it motivates me to write daily;
  • #BlogBattle short story contest hosted by the writer Rachael Ritchey, because it inspires me to write something by every Tuesday, and because I get to read stuff that other people wrote, and to see how I measure up against the others.

 

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“I’m here for the long run”. Credit: Ellie Maloney

Actually, the history of this blog is a small story of itself. Once I wanted to comment on a blog post written by John Scalzi on his ‘Whatever’ blog, and the system logged me in through my old WordPress blog that I haven’t used for over two years, and had no intention to continue. That gave me a stimulus to finally deal with my old blog (and I did; I killed it), and to start something new. This is how Jalapeño Fiction started.

Blogging about my writing turned out to be a rewarding experience.  At first, I worried it would distract me from the actual productive writing. I have 2 sci fi novels in drafts that I need to be fixing now. And I haven’t gotten to them in a while due to relocation, work related issues and just life in general. Some of you may know what it’s like to fall out of a habit of writing, and how difficult it is to get back.

Contrary to my fears, blogging unclogged something in my brain. A merely month later, I have 11.300 words of a sci fi mini-series – Million Deaths of Lt. Mazula, six full episodes as of this moment, and another 6.000 words in four short stories (two of them are written for the #BlogBattle contest I mentioned earlier).

I did the math. 17.000 words is about 600 words a day if writing 7 days a week. Of course I did not write 7 days a week. When I wrote, I outputted around 1.000-2.500 words a day.  Lesson #2: I am capable of productive writing. It’s an exciting feeling, and I am able to celebrate it because I started this blog.

What’s interesting about commitment to blogging, is that I normally don’t like the deadlines. I tried all kinds of things to write on a schedule, including signing a contract with myself, establishing a detailed work plan, and hanging it on the fridge for accountability. That worked for maybe one week. Then I backslid and tried to catch up, only to drive myself in a hole.

Thanks to this blog, I began a mini-series planning to write episodes on a regular basis. At first I thought it would be an episode every 10 days. Then I ended up writing more and posting an episode every 5 days. But then, life got in the way.

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“One for my baby, and one for the  roach.” Credit: Ellie Maloney

First, I had to travel for a week to a remote area with no internet, with electricity available only a few hours a day, with the hotel where I wanted to sleep fully clothed and rub myself with penicillin afterwards… Not to mention leaky roof, malaria-bearing mosquitos, and food where I found shotgun bullets, which made me question what  kind of an animal I was eating (a particularly important question when so called bush meet is linked to ebola). That puts a damper on your muse. Lesson #3: Shit happens. 

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“Writer’s Funk”. Credit: Ellie Maloney

Then, The Fricken Writer’s Block happened. For several days I would do all the usual rituals: brewing coffee, sitting at the desk, browsing the web, putting on makeup (may not resonate with some of you), putting on various shoes (may or may not resonate either), watching “The Funniest Moments of Stargate SG1”  and such … to no result whatsoever.

When I got to the very bottom of this writer’s funk, I realized that I simply lost my usual playful mood that gets me through any writing. You can’t be too serious about yourself, what you do, or your life in general. Lesson #4: ‘Serious’ is the killer of ‘creative’. And that is why, subconsciously, I did all these goofy things to get over the block.

Then one evening we went out to the beach. The ocean was rough, and the breeze was cool. I talked to people about things that don’t particularly interest me, and yet I had a good time. Next morning, I was writing again. And this time it did not matter what shoes I wore. Lesson #5: Relax and enjoy life. 

So, happy birthday, Jalapeño Fiction! And I wish you a good and productive life.

Sincerely yours,

Ellie Maloney

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