200 words, every damn day

This is my resolution, one that I’ve been enforcing for three days now (since Stephen Dedman’s writing workshop).

Apparently, 200 words is Terry Pratchett’s minimum word count. Every single day of the year.

When I initially heard this, and of many other writers who say 500 or so words, at first I scoffed. But then I did the maths. 200 words a day – 365 days a year. That’s a minimum of 73000 words a year! That’s the best part of a novel, or at least a short fiction collection – a good 20 odd short stories or more.

My minimum has ever been 1000 words a day. This rate can be maintained fairly well in the periods I am doing nothing else but write, but my sums didn’t add up.

I then remembered, I only maintained the 1000 words on weekdays, and slacked off on weekends. Also, there were periods over the last twelve months (Christmas, holiday in Phuket) where I didn’t write anything for a few weeks. So even though I’ve written a bucketload over the last 15 months, it could have been much more with some applied discipline.

The worst part has always been getting back into the rhythm of writing after taking breaks (even Mondays were hard after non-writing weekends). Suddenly, 200 words every day looks a lot more attractive. Even with two courses and bundles of assignments to churn through, I’m jamming at least 200 words in. Yesterday it was 600. The day before 300.

I actually feel like a writer again, after many weeks of adjusting to the TAFE lifestyle. In fact, as I rocked up at TAFE this morning, a great flash story popped into my head, so I parked the car, and scribbled the entire story in my notebook – something I have never done before. I was 10 mins late for the class, but felt intensely satisfied at the impromptu creation.

The story is called Nuclear Summer, and is destined for inclusion in my Shards micro collection.

Here’s a sample:

Even as I listened, and realisation slowly dawned, the sounds of hysterical neighbours echoed through the street. Clattering pots, shouts, the squeal of tyres. I knew they were wasting their time.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been belting out words on what I thought was a flash story with the working title The Note. It’s cool for a few reasons. First of all, it’s moving past 1000 words, so is in short story territory; it features Detective Taylor from Harbinger (an unrelated prequal type scenario); and is a back-handed homage to Stephen King’s story 1408, published in his collection, Everything’s Eventual.

So, I will finish my 200 words tonight (having spent most of them on Nuclear Summer), in between a couple of the damn website assignments. Ah, fun and games.

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