....if ever a word could catch your attention (it sounds like something my four-year-old son would say, before laughing hysterically for three to five minutes).
I'd like to begin by expressing my excitement and appreciation for the opportunity to participate on this blog. Once the euphoria of being offered the Thursday spot began to wear off, it was quickly replaced by the humbling awareness of the responsibility that comes with this opportunity.
I've been following this blog since the beginning of January (I know - I'm just a baby!), and every time I read through a post, I have the same epiphany. Each time, what was said, was the very thing I needed to hear, at that moment.
And now it's my turn to wear the shoes. All week I've been pondering and praying and hoping that I can do the same. That I can offer you something, if just one small thing, that you need to hear, that will make a positive difference in your writing, or in your life.
Or at least, will make you laugh.
So here goes....
A few years ago my mom introduced us to a new dice game she had learned, that for whatever reason, was called Farkle (which name also made her laugh hysterically like my four-year-old son for three to five minutes).
If you've never played before, I recommend it - think Yahtzee meets Bunco. I don't want to go into too much detail here, because the point of this post is not to teach you how to play Farkle. Instead, I want to relate it to a principle of writing.
Basically, in the game of Farkle, you roll 5 or 6 dice (depending on the variation). Points are scored based on runs, three, four or five-of-a-kind, and for anytime a die rolls 1 (worth 100 points) or 5 (worth 50 points). Each player takes a turn rolling until they either a) lose all their points for that round by not rolling any pointers, or b) choose to keep the points they've earned thus far, and pass the dice to the next player. 1000 points gets you on the board. First player to pass 10,000 points, wins the game.
What's always fascinated me about this game (besides the name, of course) is the variation in strategies that players use to win.
Strategy #1: Go big, or go home. This strategy is simple. Following no more than what must be gut instinct, a player rolls until the odds are just too stacked against them, or until they bust. Essentially, a player gambles with their points. The catch: You never know how high you will go until you try. I've seen rolls of 3-5000 points. However, usually, a player risks too much and goes bust. Most people play this way. They sit at zero points and then bam!, they're at 2000. They stay there for a while and then bam! they're at 3500, etc.
Strategy #2: Take whatever you get. If I roll three 1's, a 4 and a 5, that's 350 points. I pass the dice and watch my total (slowly) accumulate. The catch: no (big) risk = no (big) reward. Players seldom adopt this strategy, because of the compelling question from strategy #1. "What if my next roll is the perfect roll?" That's not to say these players never get big rolls. It's just they usually don't stick out a turn long enough to see how big it could get.
So which strategy do I adopt? Well, I hate to admit it, but usually the first one. Strategy #2 just isn't that thrilling. It's the slow and steady wins the race concept. I love the thrill of rolling the dice, and the pride of saying "I guess I can settle for 2700 points this round".
The irony? Employing this exciting strategy seldom works for me. I almost always lose this game, to guess who?
Strategy #2 players. Who almost always win.
Slow and Steady wins the race.
So on to the writing metaphor.
As in Farkle, writing habits (and I mean the actual active of sitting down, pen to paper, fingers to keyboard) can be approached from two different methods.
Method #1: Wait for that big chunk of time, when nothing is in your way, to sit down and write like a mad man, producing words counts of 3-5000 words in a shot.
Method #2: Write when you can, when you can. Every word counts. Every fifteen minutes, every 200 words, brings you closer to the end of that story.
Which method do I employ? I'm sure it's not hard to imagine. For most of my life, as much as I love to write, I've believed I need the instant gratification of a soaring word count. Then I can pat myself on the back, and tell myself what a fantastic job of writing I've done that day. The catch? As a wife of a student, working mother of three, friend, daughter, sister, devoted reader, etc., when does one find big chunks of time? Last year, employing this strategy, I managed to write a grand total of approx. 83, 000 words (and 50,000 of those were during NaNoWriMo).
So with a new year, and a chance at new resolutions, I decided to change that. Instead of focusing on my word count, I focused on my method. Write when I can. Some days, I'm surprised at the time I can find when I'm actually looking for it. And some days all I get is fifteen minutes scraped together from I-just-don't-know-where!
But guess what? In January and February, I've already written a grand total of approx. 42,000 words. More than half of my 2011 total. In the first two months alone. Without the need to pull aside large (unavailable) chunks of time. Eeep!
Now, I'm not implying that these are the only two methods with which to approach our writing, or that mine is the method that is best for you.
What I'm encouraging you to do is to examine your method. Think about the way you approach your writing, and ask yourself the question:
Is it working for me?
Re-examining my habits and methodology has lead me to a goldmine of new writing opportunities: This and other blogging opportunities, an almost finished WIP, and the knowledge that I can make little moments for myself at the end of the day to do one of the things I love best: write.
Slow and steady to the end of my story.
What was always such a faraway dream just came in reaching distance, but I don't have to fly to get there.
What about you? What's your methodology?