Rebecca G. Aguilar | Writer

SCBWI

What is that thing? | 500 Words A Day

Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on January 8, 2016

Vintage Smith-Corona typewriter. Photo used with permission from Typewriter Rodeo.

I don’t adjust the thermostat in my house. And, I don’t make coffee. I rarely get those things right, so I avoid doing them. Brainstorming nonfiction picture book ideas or reading or outlining or drafting or revising. I have a satisfactory grasp of those kinds of things.

So, it’s with great distress that I admit that I’m a daily word count failure. Even a goal of 500 words a day has never been a piece of cake for me; more like carrying that cake up a tall, wobbly ladder. Kristy Acevedo’s Writing Challenge recently inspired me to share how I learned to stop worrying and love the word count.

Long ago and far away, I trained in the who, what, where, when, why of news and features at a daily newspaper, where column inches and deadlines set strict guidelines for word economy.

Building word count seemed so unnatural. Why negotiate the daily time and space to commit 500 words to paper? Why write anything at all without a purpose? Until I considered a daily word count, I didn’t understand the value in such a task.

Then, I began wanting to be more consciously literary. The satisfaction of accomplishing something writerly… reaching attainable milestones and sticking with the daily routine… what a concept! As the word count accumulates each day, a crazy goal like 15,000 words seems more conceivable.

I also began seeking to be more expressively creative. Free writing 500 words and saving revision for later helps shake loose ideas from the imagination. And I’m convinced that my creative voice will gel with the daily practice versus writing when the muse strikes.

Now, on most days, I rise early, eat a good breakfast, see family off to school and work. I settle in at my computer, not a vintage Smith-Corona, with a cup of coffee I didn’t brew. A few hours later, I might finish some free writing, a journal prompt, a poem, a list, a backstory or a blog post like this one… mostly in fewer than 350 words. Piece of cake.

YA writer and high school teacher Kristy Acevedo is the author of Consider, coming in April 2016 from Jolly Fish Press.

Typewriter Rodeo types custom poems on vintage typewriters for parties, events, fundraisers, book launches. Featured at the Texas Book Festival.

Category: What is that thing?

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