1000 Words a Day for 90 Days

Challenges

It’s shocking to realize I’ve only posted one full length blog here since the new year. Between committing to working harder in real estate, the work I’ve been doing with the Huichol Indians, and my outstanding ability to fritter away time in the great outdoors surfing, it’s been a busy year for sure, but there’s no excuse for how little writing I’ve accomplished so far this year. Now however, thanks almost exclusively to Andrew Scot Bolsinger, I’m taking steps to change that. All you need to know about Scot is that his website address effinartist.com kicks ass, he kicks ass, and thanks to him, I’m starting to kick some writerly ass. Okay that and that he’s a writer, editor, coach, activist, and felon. Go, read his bio now.

So how did Scot and I meet so that he could kick my writerly ass? We didn’t. At least not face to face. Scot and I both volunteered at the San Francisco Writers Conference in February (as I have every year since 2011), but when our paths crossed he didn’t have a moment to stop and chat because he was volunteering to be the conference organizer’s personal slave, er, I mean, assistant.

I should mention that I almost didn’t go to the conference this year because I didn’t want to have to look the same people in the eye whom I see every year and tell them I still didn’t have my book done, not even a first draft. I was deeply ashamed of my lack of progress and told myself I would not allow myself to feel like that again when SFWC 2016 rolled around. So like every year I attend the conference, I tried once again to hook up with someone (get your mind out of the gutter Mom!) to be accountability partners. I would offer to read their stuff and they’d read mine and we’d agree to keep after one another to produce regularly until we got our first draft done. But the end of the conference came and I still didn’t have my accountability partner. I was frustrated and my butt hurt from the ass-kickings received when I fessed up about my lack of progress to the people who’ve been my cheerleaders all these years.

So the day after the conference, as I took stock of my writing or minimum quantity thereof, I received an email from this mysterious Andrew Scot Bolsinger person, whom I’d never heard of. And low and behold, it was as if the Universe heard my prayers, he up and invited me to join a non-fiction writers group. I was so astounded by this manna from heaven I had to read the email twice. How on Earth did this guy even know who I was? And did he know he was answering my writerly prayers? The email was kind and encouraging and made me feel like I was being asked to join an exclusive and special group of writers organized by an exclusive and special editor, award-winning writer, coach/cheerleader (for now let’s just forget the felony part). And that is precisely what it was. To top it off, not only had Scot pulled together a group of eight motivated writers of varying backgrounds and experience, he also got Michael Larsen, experienced literary agent and founder of the SFWC, to join us and provide feedback. Wow! (The other “wow” is that Skype makes it possible for me to join a group that meets in San Francisco all the way from Baja, Mexico).

But the story doesn’t end there. Not only did my productivity increase as I pulled together material to submit to the group for critique in April, but Scot also offered his assistance as a regular butt kicker, a.k.a accountability partner and cheerleader. Only thing is, he doesn’t need anyone to make him accountable, except maybe where his yoga practice is concerned. But man, do I need someone to kick my ass regularly. And he’s been more than happy to do that. But it was what he did three days ago when I sent him an SOS email telling him my productivity was in the can again that made all the difference in the world. He suggested I just make time to write 1000 words, “today.”

It’s said that Jack London, one of the most prolific writers of all time, wrote 1000 words every day regardless of his location, health, or responsibilities. I’ve always rolled my eyes a little when I hear another writer referencing this fact. But the reality is that between 1900 and 1916 London finished over 50 fiction and non-fiction books, hundreds of short stories and numerous articles. Fifty books in sixteen years! And the only reason he stopped was because he died (OMG, do you think writing all those books killed him?!) To someone who’s been struggling for over six years to complete one work of non-fiction writing all those books sounds pretty freaking miraculous.

I’d played with the idea of committing to the 1000 words a day program, but I always came up with excuses why I couldn’t do it. Frankly I was pretty sure I’d fail. I didn’t think I could possibly find time to write that many words every day. A 1000-word blog post can take me the better part of a day to complete, several hours minimum. But at this point Scot wasn’t asking me to do it every day, he just asked me to do it that day. So I agreed. But then he did something really remarkable. He didn’t leave me an out. He told me I had to send him the 1000 words. To which I responded:

oh fuck…you really are going to hold me accountable…

Yup, that’s what accountability partners do.

So I wrote those 1000 words, dammit! And you know what? I wrote them in under an hour because there were waves and I wanted to go surf more of those waves because I’m a wave junkie and a wave junkies can never get enough waves. And even though I vomited those 1000 words onto the page, they weren’t, according to Scot, complete drivel. They were certainly far from being my best work, but they were comprehensible and they got me over the hump on a chapter I’ve been pulling my hair out on for months (um, yeah, that’s ‘cause it’s the chapter where I describe losing my virginity).

Then another miracle occurred. Getting those 1200 odd words down on the page in such short measure inspired me to write again the next day, but this time 3800 words were the result! Yeah, I know, holy chit batman! Almost four Jack-London-writing-days in one sitting. And now here I am on the 900th word of a 1000-word blog that will fulfill the third day in a row of the 1000-Words-a Day Challenge (924, 925, 926…yeah, I could finish this blog post just counting out the numbers, but I don’t want to! I have important stuff to say here man!!). Oh yeah, so Scot also introduced the writers group to the Alcoholics Anonymous idea of “90 in 90.” That is, repeating something 90 days in a row to establish new habits and discipline. He generously offered to be our cheerleader on that as well.

So the bottom line is this – I’m writing this blog post to share with you my pledge to myself. Here it is:

I commit to writing a minimum of 1000 words every day for the next 90 days. I will focus these words on my memoir principally, but allow for a maximum of one blog post per week. I will not allow the lure of good surf, good food, good wine or even good sex with a surfing wine-drinking gourmet chef to dissuade me from writing those words. I state it here for all to see: There is no excuse for not writing those 1000 words because it takes less than an hour to write them. I pledge to write more than 1000 words on the days when I am moved to do so and in order to make up for all the time I’ve lost not writing 1000 words a day until now. And furthermore, I pledge to do my darnedest, write as many words as I need to write to have the first draft of my memoir completed by July 31st, 2015.

That’s write, I mean, right. This is my pledge. [dramatic arm-flourishing bow]

I invite you to drop me an email any old random day to ask me if I’ve met my word commitment yet that day. I also hope that if I don’t meet that commitment to myself, you’ll come a kickin’ with your shit-kicking ass kickers to set me straight. And I hope you’ll celebrate with me, when I report that I have. My success is your success, my failure…well, that’s something I gotta own all on my own.

[Whew! 1487 words!! Jumps up and down arms held high in the air Rocky-Balboa-style]

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13 thoughts on “1000 Words a Day for 90 Days

  1. If you write, Dawn, I will read it. I think if you know you have a nonliterary audience, it might help some. As a life long surfer (over fifty years now), I know what a distraction surfing can be and an impediment to one’s personal growth towards following your dreams. Honestly, surfing makes me happy. And it makes me happiest when I can not do it whenever and as much as I want. It is like drinking a very good whiskey. It is a cherished moment, not a daily indulgence. So, I guess it is about balance and finding gratification in your work (passion) and then rewarding yourself with a good and exhausting surf session. That is a great formula for a happy life. Good luck. Your writing is a real delight.

    • Thank you Tom! Surfing makes me happy too, but you are correct that I have a vision of sharing how life should be more pleasure than pain…we who know, know that surfing is the antidote to all. And it means a lot to me to know that I have an audience of readers out there like you who will read my work. I am really excited about this project I’m working on.

  2. Hello Dawn,
    We also call it 90 in 90. But your doing 1000 in 90. One day at at time. You can do it! Good work! Never give up. Happy you found a faithful friend and mentor. Just goes to show you never know what or when the next moment/miracle may come to us. Cool stuff.

    • Yes, my buddy is an AA graduate, which is where he got the idea – 90 meetings in 90 days. I’ve always heard “do it for 21 or 30 days and it will become a habit,” but I like the extended commitment this requires.

  3. That’s an awesome challenge Dawn and you are on the way! I have the same kind of challenges as I work on producing good paintings. I have 2 solo shows in July so I have a deadline that makes it easier to buckle down and produce each day. But there are always wonderful other things to do – hiking, paddle boarding, working on the whale watching boat etc etc…… So I find that when I have done a good amount of painting, I reward myself with some fun outdoor activity. That way I keep a balance in my life. I know you can do it and you are welcome to send me a ‘Ass Kick’ up to Salt Spring for my painting, and I;ll send one down to you for your writing.
    WRITE ON GIRL!!

  4. I’ve been writing 750 words every day for … gads .. 15 years? Just do it first thing .. make it the most important commitment to yourself … There will still be waves — promise 🙂

    • Wow Catharine! That’s a beautiful commitment you’ve made. I’m not really a “first thing” writer, but I will definitely make it happen now that I know how little time it takes.

  5. Pingback: The Hardest Part of Writing a Memoir: The Truth | Dawn Revealed

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  7. Hi Dawn, excusame por hablar en español, pues no hablo bien el inglés. Mi nombre es Thomas, y me encata que te enamorases de ese lugar precioso del Mar de Cortés. Yo soy español y me siento profundamente identificado. Tu labor creo que es muy gratificante y comprometida con el medioambiente. Tu forma de entender la vida es significativa para los tiempos que vivimos y muy respetable. Te deseo que continues haciendo lo que te dicte tu corazón y seas un alma libre. Por cierto tu nombre en español significa “Amanecer”. Tengo una hija que la llame parecido “Aurora” es justo el momento previo al amanecer. Desde España te envío un afectuoso Saludo.

    • Querido Thomas,
      Gracias por escribirme! Y no pides disculpa por hablar tu propia idioma. Gracias a dios, lo puedo entender, todo que escribes aqui. Si, soy una mujer quien dedica mucho tiempo a cuidar el ambiente, regional y interior! Mas y mas me dedico al practico de la meditacion y lo que escribo siempre es del corazon. Sore mi nombre…mis amigos aqui me llaman Alba, pero si, se que el Amanecer es la traduccion mas correcto. La casa donde vivo, llamemos Casa del Amanecer. 🙂 Espero que puedes entender mas que menos de lo que escribo aqui en mi blog. Usas una traductora? Te mando un abrazo fuerte y mucho amor de este lado del planeta.

      • Hi Alba, con tu permiso te llamaré así =) Decirte que es muy gratificante el poder tener el placer de leer tu Blog, pero más aún que hayas tenido tiempo para poderme contestar. Entiendo todo lo que escribes, no es necesario traductor, también me alegra ver que tú eres poliglota. Ver lo que escribes transmite paz y relajación, aunque sé que parte de tu filosofía está basada en el Surf, desde aquí España, invitarte a que visites Tarifa (Cadiz), templo del Surf en Europa, muy cerca de la Base Naval de Rota, donde se junta el Maravilloso Mar Mediterraneo con el Oceano Atlantico. Te envio un fuerte abrazo desde la Tierra del Sol.

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