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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accountability Partner For Your Word Count

I thought I was being a sissy-baby for signing up for NovelTrack this month. "You idiot," I said to myself. "You are a grown woman. You do not need to sign up on a website to ensure you get down words on the page every week. You're not a baby, you know! Just write."

But I signed up for NovelTrack anyway. And I'm glad I did.

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is a professional organization aimed at developing writers who intend to publish in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Assoc). There are tremendous benefits to being a member, including the networking with other writers, learning the biz, classes offered as part of membership, and the annual conference that assembles the best line up of editors and agents for Christian fiction each year. And if you understand anything at all about breaking in as a writer, you know how important those conferences are.

But one of the other benefits they offer that might not seem like such a big deal is what they call "NovelTrack" which is similar in idea to NaNoWriMo.

In essence, four times a year, ACFW members can log onto NovelTrack, select a word count goal for that month, and post their daily word counts to encourage themselves and others on to meeting their goals.

Some people select really large goals, say 50,000 words. NovelTrack recommends you select a minimum of 10,000 words, which is what I opted for. If I write every day but Sunday, that means cranking out 385 words a day, which even for a slow writer like me is very doable.

I'm so glad I did. At a time when the day job is literally ten kinds of hell, I can go to, as Jack O'Neill said in Stargate "my happy place" and in 15-20 minutes, jot down my 385 words for the day. I don't even have this novel plotted out or researched. But that's ok. Writing 385 words a day, I can brainstorm in freeflow about my characters and situations, plus I am rebuilding the habit of writing daily.

There is much discussion in the writing community about whether it's truly necessary to write on a regular basis. Ask 10 different writers, you'll get 10 different answers. For me, I believe its important to write a little each day. It keeps the momentum going.

It's sort of like driving a car---you get in your car and drive down the freeway. While you're doing that, the oil is moving through your engine, lubricating all the parts and making it function smoothly. That's what writing daily does for our creative minds.

I'm especially proud of myself for setting a low word count goal, as I tend to want too big a slice of the pie in my goal setting. This pace is very comfortable for me, and makes allowance for all the chaos presently in my life.

But you don't have to be a member of ACFW to have accountability. Set up a spreadsheet for yourself--note your monthly goal at the top and track your daily progress. Then email your daily progress to a trusted friend. That's all there is to it.

But if you want to be a writer, you have to write.

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