So…what does a day of trying to write a million words in a year actually look like? Obviously, your mileage may vary here. My days are different from other people’s. My workdays are different than my weekends. And really, each day is a little different from the last.
That said, I’m going to take you through one of my days, specifically I’m going to talk about a workday. Maybe I’ll do another one where I talk about what I do on the weekends, but let’s start here.
The absolute most important thing I’ve been doing during Milwordy is setting my alarm 2 hours earlier than normal. I’m not exactly what you’d call a morning person in the sense that I don’t enjoy getting up before the sun does. I don’t wake up feeling rested and refreshed. I don’t greet the day with gratitude and joy. There are no animated birds singing songs while looping around my bed because if they tried it once—let’s just say they wouldn’t get a chance to do it a second time. I’m a grouch in the morning, okay?
I have, on a number of occasions, attempted to write everyday consistently. My success has varied, but what the attempts have taught me is that I’m most productive in the morning. I guess that means I’m a morning person who resents being a morning person. I’m betting there are at least a few of you that can relate.
If I wait until later in the day, not only do I typically write slower, but because I don’t have the time limit of having to get done before work, I tend to procrastinate more. And, getting my words in early lessens the chance that something unexpected will happen to throw off my day. For instance, the other day I came home from work with a borderline migraine, but thankfully I had gotten my words done in the morning, so I didn’t miss out on my writing for the day.
So, I get up between 5:30 and 6 AM. My cats freak out because this is the time they’ve always wanted to be fed, but me and my husband aren’t usually awake yet, so they have to soothe themselves by crying outside our bedroom door. Not anymore!
My cats are morning people. I wish I knew where they found the energy.
I like to make myself a cup of tea then. I have a little clear jar on the counter that I keep all my teas in so I can quickly make my pick and get a cup ready while the kettle heats. This particular morning, I’m going for the Candy Cane Lane by Celestial Seasonings that I buy a bunch of during Christmas so I can have it all year round. It’s the best. Seriously, if you like mint, give this a shot. The season for it is coming soon!
I plop the bag into the mug my dad gifted me 3 Christmases ago, trudge into the living room and drop down onto the broken recliner couch we’ve been meaning to replace for three years now. I’d like to tell you that I have this great writing space set up that I could take a picture of and post on Instagram and say, “Isn’t writing so wonderful!”
Writing is wonderful, but it also can be messy. At least for me. Even though I still have my childhood desk that I could easily clean off and use, and even though our three-seasons room is exactly the atmosphere I always imagined myself writing in, somehow I inevitably end up sitting on the couch, lap desk propped on my legs as I set up my computer. The table beside me is very much what most people find behind their tv stands: an octopus of chords and fallen papers.
This is why I don’t post pictures of my house on Instagram: Most of it looks like a mailbag exploded on every surface.
I boot up my laptop, open approximately 3,831,002 programs (Word, Write or Die, Pandora, and my internet browser, to name a few). And then finally I’m ready to write.
Often I like to find writing sprints on YouTube that I can follow along with, but this morning I decide to just jump into the writing. I want to get all my words in if I can, which requires focus. I take just a minute to read the last paragraph or so that I was working on yesterday to get myself back into the mindset of writing. I choose 30 minutes for my first sprint in Write or Die. I know I can get about 1,200 words in that time which is a really great start.
The sprint goes well. There are a lot of mistakes, of course, but I’ve got 1,261 words to add to the first draft of my second novella which feels great. I’ll revise those later.
I copy and paste the words to a blank Word document. Once I have all my words for the day, I’ll copy and paste the whole document into my actual novella file, but this way it’s easy to keep track of just the words I’ve done that day. No math required.
Okay, so here’s a weird little quirk of mine: I like even numbers. I take an even number of bites when I eat. When I’m walking, it’s two steps at a time—always. And when I’m writing, if the number of words ends up being an odd number, I have to go back and find a way of making it even.
I know, this is not the best way to write. Sometimes adding an extra word to make it even does not improve the story and so should not be done, but it’s compulsive. I can’t help it. So here we are. It would be easier if I didn’t have that little word counter in the corner keeping track for me, but that’s kind of necessary with Milwordy, isn’t it?
Now I take a little break. I stretch out my fingers. I’m starting to get some pain in my hands and wrists from all this writing. I’m sort of hoping that it’s just because I’m not used to doing this much typing and my muscles will get used to it, but I know I may have to figure out some way to mitigate the pain. Maybe I need better posture. Maybe if I actually sat at my desk and not the couch, my hands would be in better shape. I don’t know.
Anyway, now I do find myself a writing sprint on YouTube. It features several AuthorTubers I know and several I don’t, but I’m excited to start it.
They talk a lot. Which I like, but also this is a form of procrastination for me. I like to feel like I’m not entirely alone when I’m writing and this helps…but man, I know if I just wrote straight through without the distractions, I could get all of my words for the day in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Could you imagine? I can and have imagined it many times. *sigh*
That’s not what I’m doing today. Today I’m listening to people who have actually managed to have some success with writing, talk about writing, while I procrastinate. Good job, Robin.
There’s the first sprint. Only fifteen minutes, but hey, I can do a decent amount with that.
I get nearly 700 words, but I did go over the sprint time a bit. In fact, I just keep on typing as they talk and I get myself all the way to a 2,092 total for the day before I have to stop and get ready for work.
I should have gotten further than that. I had the time. I’ve done it before. But this is again the problem with watching YouTube word sprints. There’s a lot more rest time in between sprints than I would otherwise give myself.
But that’s okay. I still got over 2k words, which is a pretty great start to the day.
Next, I make my breakfast, eat, and change for work. I won’t walk you through my whole workday, but I will tell you this: My job is more physical than mental, and though I do work with other people, I often have time during the day where I can listen to music, or podcasts, or audiobooks. This is perfect for me as a writer. I’ve been listening to the Six Figure Authors podcast lately, which has been teaching me a lot about building a self-publishing career. I definitely recommend it. I’ve also just started the second book in the Scythe series. And when I listen to music, I often find myself brainstorming for my writing. Basically, even when I’m not writing and reading, I’m thinking about writing and reading.
I get home and my feet hurt; I collapse on the busted, old couch. It’s 5:30 and we’re having leftovers tonight so my husband and I don’t have to worry about heating up dinner until about 5 minutes to 7, which is when we like to sit down to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.
Yes, my husband and I are in our mid-30s not our 70s. But we really like word games and trivia. Plus, when we were off work because of the pandemic shut-downs, it became a way to give ourselves a little bit of routine.
Anyway, my husband and I talk about our day for a little bit before I admit that I need to get more words done and he decides to play his video game—Smite, I think. I don’t know. I’m not a gamer.
Anyway, I set myself up much like I did in the morning. This time I don’t bother with YouTube. I just want to get my words done. If I get them done quickly enough, maybe I will reward myself with a video.
Though technically I only need 686 words to reach my minimum goal for the day, a feat which I could manage in about 15 minutes if I pushed myself, What I really want is to get to 3,831—the no weekends goal. That’s 1,739 words I would still need. But I have an hour. I’ve done more than that in an hour. Let’s do this!
Okay, so I finished up with 3,858 total, which means I made my stretch goal for the day! Barely.
I post a picture to Instagram. I’ve been doing little Instagram photo shoots during the weekend because I just don’t think I could keep up with this posting schedule if I had to take a picture every day. I try to take enough pictures that I have many things to choose from and can pick something that accurately reflects what I’m thinking in the moment. I don’t want to be inauthentic, but it would also stress me out to have to come up with a picture every day. This is something I’m still kind of working out since I’m still pretty new to Instagram.
Then my husband and I heat up our leftover chili, watch our shows, and then hem and haw about what to do for the rest of the night until we decide to watch Gordon Ramsay dress up as Mrs. Doubtfire, smell some spoiled chicken, and yell at restaurant owners until they fix their business. I never do get to watch that reward YouTube video I was talking about, but that’s alright. Getting to spend time with my husband is a pretty nice reward all on its own.
So that’s roughly what my weekdays look like now. Of course, things vary, but because of the whole pandemic thing, we haven’t really been going out to do things, so keeping a steady schedule hasn’t been too difficult.
Is any of this like your routine? How is your routine different? Have you found a routine yet, or are you still searching for one?
Let me know if you enjoyed this post. If people like it, maybe I will do another one detailing what a Milwordy weekend looks like.