500-word boxes

Little boxes of words

3rd of July, 2013

One of the hardest things about writing a book is the tendency to get overwhelmed by the size of the project. It can be debilitating when you’re struggling to get a hundred words onto the page and you still have to write another hundred thousand.

To fight this, I make a bunch of little boxes on one of the whiteboards in my office (I love whiteboards). Each box represents 500 words. Every time I finish five hundred words, I hold a tiny celebration where I get up from my desk and fill in one of the boxes. (OK, very tiny. No music or cake.) The minuscule endorphin rush that comes from doing that is often enough to help me head into the next five hundred. Once all the boxes are filled (for me, this was at 48,000 words), I have a slightly bigger celebration (with cake, maybe) out of wiping the board clean (after taking the above photo, of course) and making a new set of empty boxes.

It’s silly, but I find it helps. Do you have any traditions like this to help you focus on the day’s words instead of the entire project? Tweet me at @jayshep and share your secrets.