Isabel Allende begins every novel she writes on January 8th. Lots of hopeful writers begin their first novel on November 1st thinking that 30 days and 50 thousand words will tell a story. Julia Cameron says to write 3 morning pages a day to reach far enough into your creativity. Joseph Wambaugh says he writes 1,000 words a day. Erica Jong writes 10 pages a day (with a pen). Tim O’Brien claimed to write 9 hours every single day no matter what day it was.
Then there is the magic of 10–top 10 rules of writing, top 10 joys of writing, top 10 fears of writers, top 10 ways to get published, top 10 books of the year, top 10 books ever written (let’s make that last one 100 because ever is a long time)…
Plenty of writers hate math, but they like numbers.
In my novels I pay attention to how many times a person knocks on a door–there is a world of difference between the girl who knocks once and the girl who knocks 3 times, the family who has 7 sons and the family who has 1 daughter, the number of days between the first hello and the first kiss and the number of kisses…
20 years ago today my mother passed away and I can’t shake the feeling the feeling that today I should write something great, something she would like, something important. But I am still the writer I was yesterday and no number of words is ever the right number. When my mother died I remember thinking that I could not survive feeling that way for 20 years.
I worry that I can’t keep writing if I don’t get published in 1 year or by this date or another. And how many novels I have written? 6. Unpublished. That number seems magical too as if it is the number of failure (that many and still not published?) or determination (1 of those is bound to be the 1!).
Do you have a magic number? A day or an hour you like to start your writing? A particular number of pages or words? A deadline that keeps you going or trips you up?
In this new novel so far I have 31,658 words. That is not a bad number, but I’m still counting.