Once upon a time, during a wild crazy summer, I managed to kick out over 200,000 words in just a few months. I remember the high and the thrill of the story just running through me like a bad relationship. You know the kind, where you know the person is bad for you but the thrill of running on the edge of the cliff is too intoxicating to stop; until you slip and crash and end up with half your stuff busted and the other half stolen. Sometimes writing is like that too.
This summer was exactly that, because my writing was based off roleplay with a friend. She got tired of it long before I did and stepped away. And suddenly I felt myself in freefall. It’s more complicated than that, but excuse me for trying not to embarrass myself again, kay?
That was nearly 8 years ago, and I’ve had a complex about writing ever since.
I changed my focus. Stepped way from roleplay and fan fiction. Started focusing on my own stories again. Took writing courses in college as a side interest to my major. Graduated with a bachelors, history major with creative writing minor.
Still couldn’t get my butt in the chair to get the words done. So I started reading again. [I mentioned “Around the Writer’s Block” in a previous post, btw.] Tried to find a job, couldn’t. Sidestepped my position at my current job, then slipped out of the job.
So here I am, working a temp job to keep the bills paid. But I’ve written at least 250 words a day for the past 30 days. Why? Mur Lafferty’s podcast “I Should Be Writing” and her mention of the Magic Spreadsheet. I looked into it. Then I said hell yeah and jumped in feet first.
The main point about the Spreadsheet is the accountability. I see the empty lines on the sheet and cringe, then I open up my current story and make sure I don’t become one of those. Seeing others updating their lines gives me a community feeling that I haven’t had since the roleplay group I mentioned at the beginning of the post. We posted our stories for each other to read and the immediate feedback was addicting.
With the Spreadsheet, there isn’t any feedback, but the encouragement of seeing everyone else meet their goals for the day is a form of solidarity. We’re all doing it together. And even I don’t know these people, I still support them, and I know they support me, even though we don’t speak. It’s just the act of updating for each other to see that supplies the support.
But maan… breaking this block has been amazing. And the story I started with this experiment has just run away with me and I think I might actually be able to finish it. I still have words to write on it today, as well as this post. But they both count towards my totals and add to my pleasure of words happening.
Thank you Mur, Tony Pisculli, and Derek Chamberlain and everyone connected with the Spreadsheet.
Happily plugging: Lafferty just released “The Shambling Guide to New York” and it’s sequel was written with the support of the Magic Spreadsheet. It’s a great rollicking romp and worth the read.