Writers: How Far Can You Get on Just 250 Words?
I’ve interviewed creative women with young children at home who are desperately unhappy because they can’t get their creative work done with any kind of regularity, or even at all. Probing more deeply, I often learn that so-and-so writer mother can’t consider working on her novel if she doesn’t have four hours to herself. When I suggest trying to be more flexible with work opportunities, she resists. So then the question becomes, gently: “Do you want to get your novel written on your own terms, or do you want to get your novel written?”
It’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever. Eventually, she will again be able to enjoy four-hour stretches of solitude for writing. But if that’s not feasible right now, and the creative work is how she makes meaning, it’s more important to loosen up on those ideals and develop skills that enable more spontaneous and flexible creativity.
It’s not terribly hard to write 250 words a day. With the exception of mothers with newborns, most of us can pull off 250 words without making a major time commitment or feeling like we’re neglecting our family. The four paragraphs you’re reading right now total exactly 250 words. If you wrote 250 words a day, you would have a full-length novel written in just over a year. Does that sound like a long time? It’s not. And if you don’t write those 250 words a day, the year will pass anyway, novel or no novel. Word by word!
This piece was reprinted from the last issue of the Creative Times, our monthly newsletter. Click here to subscribe!