Write Anything (But Ship Also)

IMG_0775One of my goals is to write 500 words a day, every day in 2014. So far I have written everyday and only missed 500 words on two days. Most days I write 800 or more. In January I averaged 891 words a day. This may sound difficult to do but I gave myself only one rule. Write 500 words a day. It doesn’t matter what the 500 words are. Sometimes I type a post for my various websites. Sometimes I work on new projects. And sometimes I type whatever comes into my head.

I have a document called 500 words. Every other day or so I put the date on the page and start writing. This is discovery writing. It has no purpose except to be at least 500 words. I have one series going about a woman who is losing weight and discovering a new life through running. It’s not publishable but it is fun to explore her life. Usually I start something entirely new, with new characters in a new place with a new plot. I find it extremely easy to write these shorts. They have no beginning and no end. They are simply a spark.

Sometimes I feel guilty for writing shorts that are never going to go anywhere. I know I should be working on projects that are shippable. (If you haven’t heard of shipping it is the idea of taking your product and getting it in front of the public. You don’t really have a product until you ship it.) However, I try to remind myself that each of these character and plot shorts could be used someday in a story and what I write today could be invaluable tomorrow.

I am curious if other writers do this…I don’t know what to call it, perhaps, free writing. There are a lot of books and websites out there that have writing prompts. Do these prompts produce free writing? I never use the prompts because I have too many ideas in my own head and don’t need any more. I have often thought of writing a book called “Beginnings.” It would contain nothing but 500ish word story beginnings. Any writer could then take these beginnings and turn them into their own story. I still think this could be fun. I wonder how many beginnings I would need to make a book. I think at least 100. Perhaps my free writing could eventually be shippable, too.

The hardest part of writing for me is shipping it out. It is much easier to keep it in my computer where no one can tell me how bad it is. But I never regret it when I do ship something so I should do it more often. With self-publishing and Amazon it costs me nothing but time and perhaps an editor to publish a book. But just once I’d like to get something published by the big guys (meaning New York publishers). Perhaps not my “Beginnings” book, but something. So I need to ship to the big guys. A lot.

Writing 500 words a day has been a good goal for me. So far I have stuck with it more than any of my other 2014 goals. Maybe I should add a shipping goal to my list. I will ship something to a major publisher once a month. It would be a good start. And just maybe I’ll get less nervous the more I do it.

“The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.” – Seth Godin