Archives for posts with tag: Word count

Will Monday’s dreams
be Friday’s reality?

(When TGIF rolls around, will the grand plans to get things done be
grand accomplishments
or regrets?)

Plan it.
Work it.
Stay with it.
If need be, flex with it
(and come back to a new “it” that works).

Plans are good.
(Writers, word count plans are even better.)

My calendar’s out right now.


(Warning: Poetic Rumblings Ahead)

Can you force creativity?

Can you make it take a breath
and rise to run a 5K?

In other words,
can you make your mind create —
no matter what’s going on around you?

Up against struggle of physical or emotional
stress and strain,
stretching the limits with strife
surrounding the stains of life.
(poetic but painful) —

What do you do?

When the emotional squeezes last drips of energy
into entropy.

What do you do with creativity that is underneath layers
and layers
and layers
of everyday turned into every way
of confusion?

It happens to all of us.
(to some more than others)

The mind and life-work and everyday gets full
and pushes out the creative.

So instead of praying for a clear path,
can we clear the path?

Perhaps by clearing the mind,
centering on Most Important,
being the Person Meant to Be
(within the inner stillness),
the outer can be stilled, making an oasis
for creativity.

In that way, compliance to creativity isn’t forced.
It’s welcomed home.

* Thup

surfing the web
for ideas.

landing on pages
that I’d never land on.

reading crazy articles
about crazy people
looking at crazy pictures
with crazy behavior.
(whoa. people really act insane sometimes, don’t they? sheesh.)

(And BoyOhBoy, do I have a lot of ideas to add to my story, now.)

The Internet.
(Good for ideas.)
Spin and shoot for anything, get something.

What a deal.

* Thup

writing. all day.
(sunk into the corner seat)

some days, you just hafta
sink in and
hunker down.

“The phrase ‘hunker down’ seems originally to have been Scottish,
maybe the eighteenth century?”
(I’m Irish…does that count?)

“Old Norse ‘huka’ means to squat.
Modern Dutch ‘huiken’ and German ‘hocken,’
meaning to squat or crouch.”
(oh great. that sounds…embarrassing)

“The word is popular in American English,
in phrases like ‘hunker down’ or ‘on your hunkers.'”
(yep. said that.)

“The Oxford English Dictionary description of how to hunker:
‘squat, with the haunches, knees, and ankles acutely bent,
so as to bring the hams near the heels,
and throw the whole weight upon the fore part of the feet.'”
(um. well. people would look at me reaaaaalllly funny,
if I did that in this-here coffee shop, wouldn’t they?)

“The advantage of this position is that
you’re not only crouched close to the ground,
so presenting a small target
for whatever the universe chooses to throw at you,
but you’re also ready to move at a moment’s notice.”

“Hunker down has also taken on the sense of
to hide, hide out, or take shelter,
whatever position you choose to do it in.”

Been hunkering.
(hiding out, writing)

Hunker away.
(in whatever position you choose to do it in)


(Quotes from

When are you writing, today?
I’m starting right now.
(Join me?)

Make it so.

* Thup

I’m *Clinking at home
across the miles
to you.
(No coffee shops for me, today.)

I have my own REALLY BIG mug
(filled to the brim with “midnight oil”
from Water Street).

I have some REALLY BIG stuff to do
with some REALLY BIG resolve to get it done.
(A looooooooonnnnngg list of to-dos.)

in between grading a boatload of student work
and reading a script for a course
and writing a beat sheet,
I will write my current WIP/novel.

I W.I.L.L.

Will. And must.

With the help of Mirriam-Webster, the definition of will
can be turned into some pretty nifty affirmations
that you and I can use.

(Because sometimes we just need to be affirmed.)

* Will = desire, choice, willingness, consent
It is my desire to write, and
I make a choice to write

* Will = frequent, customary, or habitual action
I will write often. I will make it a custom, a habit.

* Will = natural tendency or disposition
It is natural  for me to write, and
writing fulfills my deepest calling.

* Will = futurity
Writing will happen today, tomorrow, and the following day.
It is a part of who I am,
every day.

* Will = capability
I am a capable writer.

* Will = probability
The probability of writing is a foregone conclusion.
I WILL write.

* Will = determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness
I am determined to write.
I insist and persist.
(I even get bull-headed about it.)

* Will = inevitability
With frequency, it is inevitable that my writing
will increase in skill and desirability.

*Will = a command, exhortation, or injunction
I exhort myself
(and you can come along for the ride,
if you’d like):


(Writers write.)

* Clink.

The Zone.
Oh, The Coveted Zone.

It’s that mental space between awake and asleep
where the story takes place in your mind and heart.
(When people ask, how did you come up with that story?
It came from The Zone.)

The Zone.
That place where nothing else exists
but you, inside the story.
Walking through the story (in your brain) as the story emerges.

The Zone.
That nothing-wasted writing time
where everything flows
because you’re simply following your characters around
and writing down what you see, feel, hear, smell, and experience.

(You writers know what I’m talking about.)

Years ago, at the last Book Expo America (BEA) that was held in Chicago,
I heard a prolific author speak.
(I wish I could remember his name, but can’t. Phooey. Anyway…)

He was an older man with a white beard
with words that came out measured
(not because he was old but because he was wise).
He gave me some of the most powerful writing advice
that I’ve clung to since.

It was about
The Zone.

“Get yourself in a mental place where you
step through the screen and live the story,
as you write.”

Frankly, I was confused.
Mentally meandering into this other-worldly woo-woo place
sounded like crazy talk by a bunch of crazy people.
(Okay. We writers are a bit wacked sometimes. But…)

I didn’t know The Zone.
(I felt like an outsider.)

So after the conference,
I took this man’s words to heart
and went on a quest to find The Zone.

It was all about letting the brain go to a new brain-wave place.
(The place of imagination and dreams.)
Okay, I realize I’m repeating myself here in circular defense mode,
because this could sound weird…but trust me, it’s not.

The Zone exists.

Slowly, like a door opening, I understood how to access The Zone.
It was a bit like the scene in The Wizard of Oz
where Dorothy opens the door to Technicolor.
Peeking in, I started to walk through.
And pretty soon, I was able to open the door regularly.

Now, before you think I’ve really lost it,
think about the place between awake and asleep.
(You know how it feels, right?)
Remember how it feels when you’re waking up,
but you don’t really want to,
and the brain is still in the dream
but you’re aware of everything else around you, too
(fuzzy, but aware).

That’s The Zone.

Writers access it.
All the time.

I’d love to see a study with EEGs or MRIs (or any other medical letters)
hooked up to a writer’s brain when they’re writing story.
(I bet it would show the same waves as the asleep and awake place.)

My kids know when I’m in The Zone.
They’ve commented (with grins) about the look on my face.
(“Your eyes don’t blink and your mouth is slightly open.”)

They also know
that they can ask me anything when I’m in the zone and I’ll say yes.
(Which has gotten me in trouble more than a few times.
“I really said you can do that? Huh. And Oops.”)

At the coffee shop, my friends know when I’m in The Zone.
Last week, a friend I haven’t seen for years came in.
She came up to me and touched my shoulder to get my attention
(which took me out of The Zone in a whoosh).

She said,
“You looked so intense, so into whatever you’re doing,
I almost didn’t interrupt, to say hi.”
(If you see me, please say hi.)

So. How to get to The Zone.

Certain things take you into The Zone faster.
(For me, it’s coffee in hand, music, and claiming a small table in a coffee shop.)

Certain things keep you in The Zone.
(For me, it’s listening to what I call driving music… mostly soundtracks.)

Whatever takes you there and keeps you there, do it.

Now, if anyone had told me about The Zone 20 years ago,
I wouldn’t have believed them.
I would have nodded and politely slipped away
(making a mental note to avoid that person because they were simply w.e.i.r.d.)
But The Zone is there.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of The Zone,
I ask you to think about it.
(It might be what you’re looking for,
to access your story-writing place.)

And if you know The Zone,
I encourage you to find out what inspires getting there
and to practice it, to get there faster.
(Because, hey, productivity counts.)

The Zone.
I’m headed there now.
See you soon.
* Thup

Writing a book is a marathon.
Nothing less.

I don’t run.
(I’ve never been a runner.)

I tried to take up running once
on the prompting of my oldest daughter,
a doctor who took up running later on and still says to me,
“Come on! You can do it!”

(She wants a bunch of our family to do the Color Run together…
and I still might, for her, for this…because, hey, that looks like a ton of fun…
and, yeah, I sat next to the originator/CEO of the run on a flight from Detroit to Denver
a couple summers ago on the way to one of my residencies
and she seemed super genuine, which I like….
(Wait. Rambling. Sorry. Moving on…)

So. Running.
I got a few magazines, read a few websites,
I tried to start out slow, then add a little at a time…
but sheesh, the truth, is, it was torture.
(No offense to you runners out there.)

I love a good workout. I love the gym.
I love to walk. Hike. Even climb.
But running…gah.

Every time my daughter runs a race of some kind,
I’m in awe.
And marathon runners — whoa.
I’m in quadruple awe.

Even though I don’t run, I do know this:
There’s a point in running where you have to ignore your body
and simply keep pushing until you’re there.


For writers, it’s the same.

There’s a point in writing where you just have to ignore
the naysayers clamoring in your brain
(“this idea will never fly”…”this is too much to do”…”this book is foo”)
and simply keep writing.

News flash:
Every writer feels the marathon burn.

Write anyway.

Every novel writer gets into the book and has to
push, push, push to get it done
(especially with a deadline waving at you in the not-do-distant future)
and in the middle of it all,
you question the validity of what you have to say.

Write anyway.

Every creator-type wonders if anyone on this earth will care
about what we create.

Write anyway.
Keep writing.
Keep pushing.
Just sit down, put your fingers to the keys, and go.



It’s early. It’s dark outside. No one else is up.
It’s me, a coffee cup, a lit candle, and a laptop computer.

Lit candle?
No, I’m not a woo-woo, ambiance-for-writing kind of person.
(Although I do like candles.)
One of my adult daughters is visiting and sleeping on the couch
and I don’t want to wake her with lights. Perfunctory reason.
(Okay, It’s kind of cool, too. But I digress.)

So, as I sit sipping and staring at the keys
(my equivalent of cracking your knuckles
and shaking out the shoulders,
getting ready to go for it)
the childhood chant rings in my ears:
How much wood can a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

I’m changing it:
With a deadline looming,
how many words can a wordsmith smith
if a wordsmith could smith words?

How many words can you write a day?

I bet that with a deadline, it’s quite a few.

They loom.
They threaten.
They kick you into gear.

How many words can a word count count
if a word count could count words?
All of them. However many you write.

(And I suspect it’s more, if you have a deadline.)

If you don’t have a deadline, make one.
Give yourself a daily word count.
(Something that motivates. For a reason.
We all like reasons.)

We all need a little push, sometimes.
If you already have a daily word count goal, pick a new number.
Go for it.
(I am.)

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