Some people find power in maintaining a streak. Day after day after day, until those days accumulate into months, years, decades, of doing something every single day.
I am not one of those people. I keep trying to find and maintain that sort of consistency in my life. I’m not that successful at it, quite frankly. And the one time I forced myself to keep a writing streak hurt me. It took me a while to recover from it.
However, I can do marathons, which are short-time streaks. In that way, it’s more of a sprint than a marathon.
What do I mean by marathon? I will take a week—somewhere between five to seven days—and I will maintain both a high word count as well as a large number of steps.
The full marathons generally involve ten thousand words per day, matched with ten thousand steps per day.
This week, I’m doing what I call a half-marathon, namely, five thousand words per day, while still getting in all my steps. (As I’m preparing to walk Hadrian’s Wall next year, I’m actually getting in 12.5K steps per day.)
This essay is going to be a bit different than normal. Instead of writing it all in one sitting, I’m going to detail out the days as I go through them. I’ll still post this essay on Thursday, but there will be an addendum that I’ll post on Friday, detailing the last two days.
It surprised me how easy it was to fall into doing a marathon. Sure, I hadn’t done one in a while. And this was only a half marathon, not a full one.
Monday morning, I still found myself focused and ready. I knew when I had to start writing. It was easy to put aside the rest of the world and just focus on the writing. And for me, that’s the key to doing a marathon—that momentary laser focus.
I started slow, as I always do, particularly on a Monday on the first day of a marathon. The first hour tends to be a little brutal, quite frankly.
For the first couple of hours, I was writing 1000 words an hour.
By the third hour, I’d hit pace, and so was writing 1500 words an hour, which I maintained for the last two hours.
So after four hours, I had 5000 words. Not bad for the first day.
Had difficulty switching over to other projects after that. My brain was in marathon mode and wanted to continue. Changing that focus took work. But I got through many of the critical things I needed to do that day, so I feel good about it.
Tuesday morning started hard and slow, as I expected. Only did 1000 words that first hour. Tried to start off standing, but my legs weren’t having it, so I wrote sitting down.
Fortunately, I was able to hit pace for the next couple of hours, doing 1500 words per hour. I would have been able to write 1500 in the last hour as well, but I stopped myself after I reached my word count goal of 1000. I am pushing enough when it comes to doing the marathon, and I don’t need to do more.
In addition to the main plot, I have three subplots going on. I find that I keep needing to go back into the manuscript and add things for those subplots. My hope is that the reader will experience the plots woven together, not awkwardly stitched in, which is what it feels like I’m doing.
It’s a little weird to have to keep going back, to not be making what feels like forward progress. However, the word count is there and the story is rich and full.
Wednesday was rough. I didn’t make my word count, only 2000 words, and I only did 10K steps.
The AC in the main house went out on Tuesday. They came out first thing Wednesday morning, so I was dealing with techs. We also got some very bad news from friends of ours. If it had just been the techs, I might have been able to get more words in, but honestly, I was just so sad that words were difficult.
In addition, I had an appointment Wednesday afternoon, which meant that I didn’t have time to get in more words.
And sometimes, that’s just how it goes. You can plan as well as you can, but then there’s a life roll and things go sideways.
I found it very difficult to get motivated to write the novel Thursday morning. I found that very odd. I’m doing a marathon! That should have been enough to get me writing. Particularly since it was very easy to write my Patreon blog.
Finally figured out that I didn’t know enough about the story to proceed. I knew who the killer was. I couldn’t figure out how he interacted with the main character.
After taking some time, I realized that one of the subplots actually needed to involve him. This meant going back through the novel, ripping out what I’d put for that subplot, and redrafting it with new material.
So by the end of the day, I ended with a net gain of 1500 words. I probably wrote closer to 3000, but because I’d pulled out so much, I couldn’t count that many words.
I still got in 10K steps.
I’m writing this Friday morning.
I didn’t sleep Thursday night. I cannot write well on so little sleep. So while I will write today, I’m not going to attempt marathoning. I’ll try to get in my steps, but no guarantees there.
So in the end, this wasn’t much of a marathon. Just a couple of days of focused writing. Then life happened, story happened, and my body happened.
Next week, I’m going to try to have a few more focused writing days. Hopefully, it will go better than this week.
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