Optimal Daily Word Count

photo of a stack of magnetic poetry words to illustrate story on optimal daily word quota for a writer
Photo by Steve Johnson

The habits of famous writers are a source of fascination and perhaps inspiration for book lovers and aspiring writers: aesthetics of their writing retreat; curios in their space; rituals performed before sitting down to work; writing tools; and, perhaps ‘easiest’ for the aspiring writer to replicate: their daily word quota.

Should we follow Michael Crichton’s gruelling 10,000 words per day, or keep it easy breezy at Ernest Hemingway’s 500?

To answer this question, I looked at available data on 39 famous writers and drew inferences on:

– Relationship between daily word quota and rewards

– Gender influence on daily word quota and rewards

– Perceived value of effort and output, and its influence on the writer’s psyche

– Optimal daily word count

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Timeline

Image of cocoons and insect larvae for serial story 'timeline', part 1 titled 'missing person' creative writing

It was with a heavy heart that I worked my way through the Sandersons that had spent the better part of their youth at Henfield Primary School. There was a whole brood of them- some related, others just sharing a relatively common name. James, Felicity, Veronica, Sandra, Jack, Noel, a lot of Kates, and many Peters. Finally. Cynthia. Occasionally I received a phone call from an ex-student or the parent of an ex-student, usually with an inspired idea for a 21st or wedding. Otherwise, the time capsules were returned to the ex-students themselves at the 20 year reunion- enough time would pass by then for there to be an appreciation of the insight into what their 10 or 11 year old selves could give them.

Cynthia’s mother had called grasping for something, anything, of her daughter. I knew who she was immediately when Mrs. Sanderson told me her daughter’s name. For the past year, her face, smiling with a hand proudly holding a medal that hung around her neck, had been plastered around railway stations, at local convenience stores and occasionally on the news in what has been shorter and shorter segments as time moves on and other missing persons, wars, government budgets and natural catastrophes compete for screen time. Not for Mrs. Sanderson though. Her grieving voice told me that the world and all its news had stopped for her and her husband the day Cynthia went missing. 17 years old, at another milestone in her life, having just finished high school and celebrating on the Gold Coast during Schoolies Week. No one knows what happened to her, or at least no one has come forward with what they know. All her mother wanted was one more piece of her little girl. Continue reading

Orizuru’s Winter Carousel

painting of cranes, by Józef Marian Chełmoński used as microfiction prompt
Cranes by Józef Marian Chełmoński, 1870

As is their nature, in the cold of winter, they leave for warmer shores. Fortunately, I’ve committed to memory their aerial dance and play it back in slow motion- a frame a minute to allow me to meditate on the aching beauty of their elegant necks and snow-white and black-tipped wings that gracefully stretch for one thousand years and back, thrusting them forward like a ruby crowned dart, before landing with a victorious V, framing the clouds that keep them company.

By the window, I watch and wait, it is all I can do, weighed down by dust and branded by coffee ring marks left on the torn page of the lined notebook that was folded to give me joints with minimal range of movement. The sharp creases of my form serve as lines separating me from them. Pierced and suspended, I float on my winter carousel, replaying memories of the cranes to bide time until the taunting promise of flight that summer brings.

 

164 words for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #3. Of course critical feedback appreciated, Jane. I went a little abstract with this one and was aiming for poetic prose.

Postscript 08.04.17: Originally published 5th July 2016. Reposting as I am considering additional instalments (shout out to SB!).

Half a Haibun 5

half a haibun 5 on the verge collaboration haibun with Kerfe Roig

We send shadows through the air.

We look to the sky for the whispers of birds.

Are we on the verge of remembering feathers?

a flight of fancy

serendipity’s green light

d n a in dance

fibonacci hearts beat one…

one, two- counting yellow bricks

Collage from junk mail and poetic prose by Kerfe Roig
On the Verge. Junk mail art by Kerfe Roig

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Half a Haibun 4

half a haibun 4 quest for depth collaboration haibun with marissa bergenThe distinctive hips of swagger
Hair like Slash, moves like Jagger
Surely there is more to me
Than sex and drugs and what you see
A second thought, a need for pause
A giving to a needy cause
Revealed within the spotlight’s beam
I’m just as shallow as I seem.

cosmic zeitgeist pulse
launch of a fragile ego
orbit Trappist-1
soar high, ultra-cool dwarf star!
detractors light years away…

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Positive Political Action

I came across this via methodtwomadness’ reblog and had to share- check it out for a treasure trove of inspiration – changing the world never looked so practical and doable!

Featured Image -- 4473

myf draws apparently

As you may remember, back in October, I went for a run and came back with a glimmer of an idea.

Remind me not to go running again: that little seed grew into a project that has taken up every spare moment since then. But today, most of the hard work is over. Today we launch Draw The Line.

Draw The Line

It’s been astonishing to watch, as what I’d conceived as a modest small press project blossomed, and more and more comic artists came on board (139 of them at the final count). Every single one of them is a superstar in my books, but it’s perhaps worth mentioning the bigger names, just to underline how the project grew so much bigger than I’d imagined. So, look out for work by Rachael Ball, Hannah Berry, Kate Charlesworth, Hunt Emerson, Kate Evans, Karrie Fransman, James Harvey, Lucy Knisley, Dave McKean, Fumio Obata…

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Half a Haibun 3: Behind the Scenes

Martini and some coins on a bar, photo by Leslie Reese
Photo by Leslie Reese

When Leslie shared her prose for our collaboration with me, I immediately wondered about the title ‘Naomi’. She piqued my curiosity further by hinting that it was a true story. Well, Leslie has now published an extended version, a charming vignette that welcomes the reader to an intimate bar with an interesting cast of characters. Get ready for some people watching as you nurse your beverage of choice… Continue reading

Young Hearts

Heart shaped waffle prompt for Sonya's three line tales week 54, micro fiction
Photo by Roman Kraft

It seemed the most fun in the fairground was in the small kitchen where Aaron and I worked over the summer; preparing batter and churning out waffle after waffle, talking about our dreams, confiding our fears and laughing the laugh of two people on the same wavelength, a side glance enough to set off a shared, unspoken joke and a fit of giggles. When it quietened down, he’d create masterpieces – a kitten with waffle whiskers, a hot air balloon, and bravely, a telephone- I’d noticed the nerves when he asked for my number as I bit its curly waffle cord, the memory a welcome distraction, my mind wandering, pondering how dull that telephone would look if he were to make it now- imagining straight crisp edges, chocolate sauce dabbed in dimples for battery life, and maple syrup drips of reception silenced my inner critic’s commentary on broadened hips, silver streaks, and traces of life’s lines on my face as I approached the man sitting across the room. Continue reading

Half a Haibun 3

This bartender doesn’t like me.  I used to enjoy reading great literature and could recite poetry…“what happens to a dream deferred?” – might still help me make enough of an impression that someone sitting at the bar won’t mind making up the coins I lack to pay for my beer.

sweet brown lacquered tones

shoulders elbows, eavesdroppers

ring marks – hops on grains

hops on trains, buses, and brains

fingerprints, the smell of coins.

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