Last Day of School

Internet friends!

School’s over. We did it. No more teaching.*

*Until next semester.

Wooohoo! Party!

Here I am, sitting in the classroom on the last day of school. Celebration!!!Photo on 5-25-18 at 1.15 PM.jpg

The kids have all gone home, I’m packed for the summer, and now it’s time to turn off the lights. And leave. That’s important, too.

I don’t know what’s going to happen this summer. In all likelihood it will take a week to catch my breath– this year’s been a complete whirlwind, and part of me wants to go to beach and float out amongst the waves, until they take me to a desert island, where I find true friendship via a beachball named Wilson. Now that’s the life.

I’ll spend time with my little humans (a two month old and a three month old), and I’ll probably start to work out again– look out for tips on how to get super strong. Also, I’m going to WRITE!!! I’m working on a second book in a series. Here’s a link to the first book, called The Narrow World. I’m a solid 11K into the second book, and it’s shaping up v. nicely. If you are into space epics with lasers and giant robots, it may be for you. You can read a bit here.

Any teacher friends out there? How are you guys going to spend your summer? Any regular working folks out there going on a vacation?

In the meantime, Internet friends, I leave you with this:

Day #1: 10K words/day

Spoiler alert: this does not have a happy ending.

I set the challenge for myself, and I was going to do it: write 10,000 words every day this week.

So, I woke up. I guzzled a coffee. I turned on my computer. I was ready to go.

Then I realized I had to write with the speed of a gazelle and the strength of… gazelles are strong, right? The strength of a gazelle. I guzzled another cup of coffee. I stared at the screen. Shoe002-731117.jpg

Fortunately, I have an outline of the story I’m working on (it’s a space adventure in the vein of Bridgette Jones’ diary). Just kidding about the Bridgette Jones’ Diary part, not about the space adventure part.

I get to work, hacking away at the words like they are short ribs that need to be braised. I typed and typed. By noon I hit 3,000 words.

It was lunch time. I ate a victorious peanut butter and honey sandwich. I was off pace slightly, sure, but 3,000 words wasn’t bad, so I rewarded myself with a brief 30 minute TV break.

But you know how TV works. I know how it works. We all know how it casts its perfect spell, drawing victims deep into its pixelated frame.

30 minutes turned into 3 hours. I rose from my television coma, puttered about the house, and huffed at myself. “Where’s your will power, sir? Your determination? Focus!”

So, focus I did. I sat down and plopped out another 1,000 words or so. Smiling at the computer, I realized that I deserved another break.

My mind got a little confused here. I think it still considers the word break in the vernacular of a high school girl, meaning it’s over, done, finished.

So, I stopped work for the night. It would’ve been nice to finish this post with a gloat about how I wrote 10,000 words in a  day, but I’m not going to lie to you internet, because you never lied to me.

No, it’s a bit of catharsis- being honest about things, even word counts. And I could make a list of excuses, because (ask my friends) I’m great at coming up with excuses. But I won’t.

And, to be frank, I’m not terribly bummed. 4,000 words in a day is a lot, nothing to be ashamed of. Better than 0 words. Besides, tomorrow’s another day, another opportunity for growth and improvement. Or, as Journey sang, “Don’t stop believing.”

I’ll let you know how day 2 goes. Here’s one useful resource I found:

In the meantime, let me know if you have any tips for writing!

Writing Challenge: 10K/day

Three things:

Thing one: I’m about 10k into writing a novel. The thing has its shape– I wrote an outline for it long ago, and the outline hasn’t much changed through the first few chapters.

Thing two: I have a fairly free week starting tomorrow. The in-laws wanted some quality time with my toddler, so they’ve taken her away for the week. My wife will go into work. That leaves me home… alone. Unlike Kevin, though, I will not booby-trap the house in order to ward off any would-be bandits. So, that leaves me home alone with free time.

Thing three: I really want to finish the rough draft of this novel before school starts. But in order to do that, I have to do a serious amount of work this next week.

Conclusion: I shall write 10,000 words a day for the following week! They shall mostly be OK; editing will happen later; victory is imminent.

Now, I know what your thinking, “won’t the 10,000 words just be garbage.” You are quite possibly correct, but there is a precedent for this. People have done it before and survived.

She did 50,000 words in 9 days:

This person achieved the feat in a weekend:

I may even push through and try to write 50K in one day, like this guy:

I’m gonna make it happen’ captain. There will be typos, it will be revised, but to quote a prolific writer: “It is so very much great and it is a history time for barney moose yt own oh yes! Come now Kitten and say barney we must and we must go and dance dance.” Brilliant.

These 10,000 words every day won’t know what hit ’em. Wish me luck. If my fingers don’t fall off, I’ll update here to let you know what happens.

Good Writing Habits

I like it when my students make connections. Connections are important. When we relate things to life, we learn.

An especially helpful connection (for both me and my students) is understanding writing as a muscle. Or (as the kids would say)—do you even lift, bro?

My answer is a firm no, not literally anyways. Figuratively, on the other hand, I’ve been writing quite a bit, emphasizing pace. I’ve always struggled writing lots of words in little amounts of time. When I sit down to write for an hour, but I only get 400 out of my 1,000-word goal, it’s upsetting. It’s frustrating.

I’ve realized that I can’t get bogged down on word count. I just need to work consistently. When I show up every day, I can build my pace. 1,000 words, without consistent effort, just won’t happen. On the other, if writing becomes a habit, word count will follow.


Your writing muscle requires consistency. Gym rats don’t just magically end up at the gym. Similarly, writers should plan their writing time. A long, long time ago I would write late into the night. I would look outside, see the dark, feel the quiet of the house, and act artsy and poetic. But that was before I had a kid. Now I have a kid. Kids are cute, but kids make grown people tired, which makes writing at night a non-option. The energy isn’t there, so I write most of my words in the morning.

Find what works for you, though. Find a time. Set it aside. Write.


Your writing muscle requires focus, but we live in an age of distraction. Technology clamors for our attention. Our phones buzz with texts and our TVs blare with Top Chef. When you write, seek solitude. I usually sit at the dining room table, because I know that no one will bother me there. Whether I’m typing on my laptop or writing with pen and paper, I know I need to be alone—away from the distractions of my modern life.  Find your own personal fortress of solitude.

Grow Your Targets

Your writing muscle demands growth. After you’ve established a routine, determine a target word-count. 500 words a day may be a good number to start out, but you shouldn’t stay at 500. Stick with your routine and you’ll start to see natural growth over time. There isn’t a set number here that you need to write. It’s up to you. But you might want to build up slowly, gradually. If you rush it, you’ll get burnt out or you’ll feel deflated when you don’t hit your target.

Don’t Look Back

I heard this tip from The Self-Publishing Formula Podcast. A guest writer was talking about how they worked from 2,000 words to 6,000 per day. One of the suggestions he made was to simply write without looking back on what he wrote. He just writes, like an energizer bunny on speed. Edit later, he figures. Write now. I’ve tried this a handful of times, and it seems to work for me. My pace was rocking at about 750 per hour (fairly slow), but with this method I was able to hit 1,000 a few days in a row.

What methods do you use to improve writing?

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