I love writing. But there’s not that much out there with my name on it. It turns out you have to finish the writing you start in order to publish it. Or you could be J.R.R. Tolkien and just finish about 25% of what you start and everybody else will fill in endings for the remaining 75% after you die. I wouldn’t describe what happens in my case as “writer’s block” so much as “writer’s slowdown.”
I also love running. This is a recent discovery, although I have always suspected that running was maybe something I would actually enjoy. I just never put much time or effort into it before because most of my life is spent staring at computer screens (among other things I enjoy: Netflix, cheesy browser games, Twitter, and designing book covers for other people, all of which are typically done from a seated position).
I discovered I love running through a mixture of two things. The first was Color Me Rad, where you run a 5k (or walk most of it gasping for breath as I have done for the past couple of years) while people pelt you with brightly-colored corn starch. It’s tons of fun. The combination of the two previous sentences, I have been told, makes me weird.
The second was an app called c25kfree, which helps you through the “Couch to 5k” plan. Couch to 5k is a set of running exercises that help you move from being a sedentary desk/couch jockey to being a lean, mean, 5k-surviving machine. It’s also a set of running exercises that I have ignored for the two previous years, instead making the ill-advised leap from the couch directly to the 5k with nothing in between.
c25kfree stresses the importance of sharing your progress as you go through the exercise plan. It’s important, they say, to give your friends and family a chance to cheer you on so that you keep your motivation up.
And they’re actually right.
My attitude toward the exercises shifted at the end of my first week when I shared my results for the first time. I didn’t get a massive outpouring of support, but I got enough — enough that I started to feel like I owed it to more people than just myself to keep going. It wasn’t so much about seeking the praise of others as it was not wanting to let them down by not continuing after they had spared a few moments to tell me I was doing a good job.
So here I am, having just started Week 3 of my Couch to 5k plan.
What does this have to do with my writer’s slowdown?
Earlier today I was visiting Hugh Howey’s website when I noticed something very cool. Howey posts the wordcounts of his current projects in the sidebar to his site.
"Gee," I said, "that looks awesome. And I bet that would serve as a constant reminder to me that I’m actually working on things that I want people to see, and that they can’t see them until I’ve finished them. I wonder if I could set something like that up—oh, look. Somebody’s totally set up a website to do that."
So, if you look over in the sidebar for my website, you’ll see a new block under my bio. “In Progress” contains the writing projects I’m currently working on with their working titles. Novels first (italic titles), then short stories (titles in quotes).
My goal is to update these word counts once a week on Fridays, and hopefully to watch the bars climb as I add to my stories.
Then, when one hits 100% completion, I have a beer to celebrate and ice down my legs.