Monday, January 2, 2012

Touch the Ball Every Day

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?

10 comments:

Shannon Baker said...

Lovely idea, thanks! After my huge push to get the first draft completed and using the daily word count as motivation, I now need to mull it over. Frustrates me not to put words down so the idea of tossing the ball around every day helps. Great post, Janet.

Laura K. Deal said...

Wow, what a great image! I may have to adopt this as my new practice, as my old practice feels worn. Thanks, Janet!

Donnell said...

Janet. Oh, gosh is this blog timely for me. It's overwhelming to see the mass producers whose word counts are 50,000 in a few weeks. I'm trudging along on an outline. Touching the ball is very important and a great idea!

Thank you!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I discovered it worked better for me to just write at least one hour a day, and that blog posts qualify as writing. I guess that's kind of like touching the ball...

Dean K Miller said...

First off...who's been peeking in my windows and watching my writing/non-writing? This is way too "Twilght Zone-ish".

If I touch it, there is a chance I'll tear it in half...but okay, I'll try.

Vicki said...

What a terrific New Year's resolution, and I was looking for one that is achievable and will make me happy at the same time.

THANKS!

fpdorchak said...

Great post, Janet! In my down days, sometimes I'd even just walk into my writing office and stand there...trying to recapture the feel of when I was "in the zone," bringing my head back to "how it was"....

Anyway we can all keep in touch with our superpowers...even during our "down days"..is a GOOD thing! Thanks!

Jeanne Stein said...

Good idea, Janet, and workable!!

Happy New Year!!

Rebecca Grace said...

What a great idea! That's one of those little sayings I'm going to print up and stick to my monitor so I can see it every day.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Great concept!