How much exactly is ‘a thousand words’?
In many articles on writing, the prospective authors are advised to get up in the morning and write a thousand words, no matter what. And it is also said that once people start writing the first words, the rest usually follows. So here is a sample writing to see how much that figure actually resembles on a Word document. So far we are at 65 words…
I often hear about a phenomenon called “The Writer’s Block”. It is a situation where prospective authors, with all the best intentions in the world, set out to write new books, and… are simply blocked. The words and sentences fail them, and days or even weeks may pass before they take a second look at where they are in the writing process. As one of the more than seven billion people on this planet, I too, have had intentions on writing two books on two different topics, and the last time I jolted down anything that would work towards their completion was in… 2010. It’s unbelievable how 5 years have passed from the time I set out my intention to publish a book, to where I realize the situation is so dire, that I feel the need to launch a word processor and see what in the world this one thousand word per day thing actually looks like.
I’m sure people involved in psychology have a proper explanation for what is at work here. But since I believe we already possess the answers to many questions in life, this should not really be a brainer too. So what’s at work here? How does the human brain function between setting up the initial goal, and an endless cycle of promising to start with the first thing tomorrow? What are some of the thoughts, fears, setbacks that fuel this process of, well, un-processing.
Although I don’t have an education dealing with the human psychology, I’m almost certain that there are certain fears (plus another very certain foe) at work here. Some of the basic ones that come to my mind are;
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success
- Fear of ridicule
- Perfectionism (The very certain foe)
Like I said before, we might actually start with very, very good intentions on writing a book, but right after we get to work, or worse, before we get to work, such questions may start to arise in our minds:
- What if I cannot finish writing my book in the first place?
- What if my book turns out to be a complete failure?
- What if my book doesn’t make it to the top sellers’ list?
- What if my first book makes it to the top, but not the second book?
- What if people find my book ridiculous and make fun of me?
- What if I miss something important in my book and it’s not perfect?
- What if there are other books out there, on the same topic with mine, but written better than my book?
(Slight tangent: So far we have hit the 500+ words mark. It turns out, that “1.000 words a day” will probably be about two A4 pages with a 12-point font and lush margins of 1 inch on all sides. Don’t forget to add 12-point paragraph space too! So far so good!)
So at first glance, the questions may seem like very legitimate questions that could adversely affect your motivation and bring you a complete halt, inviting into the picture the ever existing, “The Writer’s Block”. But put those questions aside for a second, and try to find answers to these ones instead:
- What happens if you cannot finish writing your book in the first place?
- What happens if your book turns out to be a complete failure?
- What happens if you book doesn’t make it to the top sellers’ list?
- What happens if your first one makes it to the top, but not your next one?
- What happens if people find your book ridiculous and make fun of you?
- What happens if you miss something important in your book and it’s not perfect?
- What happens if there are other books out there, on the same topic with yours, but written better than your book?
Now, I accept that all I did was copy some text, paste it and change some wording. But can you see the difference between the two sets of questions? The questions in the first set had a negative feeling attached to them by saying “What if…”, while the aim of the second set is sincerely and genuinely seek answers to some inevitable situations. Yes, your book might not make it to the top ten list right after publishing, or perhaps ever. Yes, there will always be better books out there on the same topic, and that’s a natural part of the human evolution. We can do better probably in all thinkable areas of this adventure called life, and someone will surely do it one day or another. Yes, regardless of what your views on anything are, the world is in abundant supply of people who will leave everything behind and make ridiculing you a part of their life mission. Perhaps they will enjoy it, but surely they will enjoy it even more if they can take you down. The question here then is, will you let that?
If you take an honest inventory of yourself and look at the second set of questions again, I’m almost certain that your answers to each one question will lie somewhere between “Nothing” and “I’m not sure really.” If not being sure seems to be the worst case, and since we cannot know whether ‘not being sure’ will turn out to be good or bad, let’s not allow these questions and worries stop us from achieving what we want in the first place. We have every reason to begin, and keep moving forward until we know we are there…
Again, how much exactly is ‘a thousand words’..?
Exactly this much!