Can you remember back in school, when the teacher said your essay had to be at least 500 words? 500 words seemed so long. There was always some kid in the class who would begin complaining loudly, asking questions like, "Does the title count?"
As I begin my writing career, I am astounded at the amount of advice out there for fledgling writers, and often the advice is contradictory. I have been spending some time reading blogs and taking a look at the advice, but I am trying to use the buffet mindset, just taking what appeals to me and leaving the rest. I have started collecting the advice that I like on to a Pintrest board (appropriately named “Becoming a Writer”). Some of the advice has been fantastic (like don’t pay high fees to those indie book publishing firms – it’s not worth it) and some of the advice has been entirely unhelpful. I am still wrestling with so many questions; is young adult fiction expected to be shorter that adult books, how do I get a literary agent interested, will self-publishing hurt my chances of getting with a big publishing house later?
Most experienced authors and many of the blogs have agreed on one very basic piece of advice – the most important thing you can do is to write. Write often. Write a lot. Focus on telling your story and worry about the editing and publishing later. Despite my predisposition toward ADD, I am not alone in my tendency to be distracted. It is essential to find a system that helps you focus and get the words down on paper. Social media can be a big distraction – so it is especially important to find ways to keep on track with your writing. As a teacher I know the value of brain breaks – so building those in your schedule are helpful too. As simple as a walk to the mailbox can get you back on track.
While many blogs suggest that an appropriate goal for writers is 1,000 words per day, that number seemed well beyond my reach. I did find one blog who encouraged writers to take a challenge of writing at least 500 words per day for 31 days straight. This sounded like a challenge that would help me growth as a writer but not completely overwhelm me. I am ready to commit to the 500 word a day challenge. I know my family can support me by asking each day if I have reached my goal.
I do have to settle a few details about the challenge – do the words in my blog count? What about the wedding articles? I think for me as a brand new writer that any time I am flexing my new ‘writing muscles’ it is okay – but ideally I think the 500 words should be in my intended novel. Oh and just like that kid in school asked – do the words in the title count?
And that my friends is 500 words