by Janet Fogg
First, I want to compliment you on the terrific concept you've developed for your new book. Don’t shrug and turn away, I mean it! It will grab an editor by the throat.
You’ve written how many words? That’s not bad, though not as many as I expected. Oh, so you haven’t worked on it since September? I’m sorry to hear that. Your voice is exceptional and I am really looking forward to reading that first draft.
Do I have any ideas on how you might get the ball rolling again? Well, we’ve both heard about how helpful it is to write every day, but I agree, sometimes that just doesn’t happen. And when your friends are consistently cranking out 2,000 words during their lunch hour, and they also have time to go for a walk, you can’t help but feel inadequate. Of course I understand that you’re happy for them, but we’re here to talk about you, remember? It sounds as if the daily word count goal you set last summer was too aggressive, that it backfired and overwhelmed you.
Here's one idea that might help. A friend shared the following analogy with me, and I think of it every time my writing stumbles to a stop. She said, “Instead of worrying about word count, just touch the ball every day.” That’s what a professional ball player does – he holds the ball so he'll never forget what it smells like, how much it weighs, and the exact curve of his fingers against the leather. This keeps the game fresh even if he’s not actively playing. My friend suggested that writers could embrace the same concept.
Touch your manuscript every day. If you don’t have the time or energy to write fresh words, let that be okay, because you can find five minutes to sit quietly and read several pages or your last chapter. This will keep the plot points active and your characters alive. Then the next time your fingers do touch the keyboard, the ball will be familiar and ready to fly from your hands.
What do you think? Instead of putting so much pressure on yourself, how about simply touching the ball every day?