The Streak

The streak isn't a new concept. Streaks are ever-present and are tracked in sports, the stock market, and gambling for starters. We may not think about streaks when it comes to our daily lives with things such as fitness or abstaining from alcohol or whichever vice(s) one may have, but they're there. They may not even be healthy streaks.

But what about writing? The idea of the streak in writing isn't new at all. I didn't see writing as something capable of a streak, like Joe DiMaggio's streak of hitting safely in 56 consecutive baseball games or the stock market rose seven days in a row. The headline would read, and oh it's so exciting, Kimble Hits 30th Consecutive Day Of New Fiction. Writers typically just try to sit down each day and get some new words down. Move forward on a project in some way.

When I began using a word tracker the streak became more obvious to me. There it was in a spreadsheet--my daily word counts. At first it was just enough to say I'd written each day, got at least some words down, say 250 words or more. But then I became a little more bold and began stringing together 1,000 word days--1,000 new words of fiction (not world building, not blogging, not emailing, not outlining, but new fiction) being the minimum.

But, like Joe DiMaggio's, the streak has to end at some point (for the record, Joe's ended in Cleveland--I could crack a joke here, but since I grew up in New Jersey I'll refrain). For me, right now, in the middle of a great streak (if you're interested: 25 consecutive days with at least 1,000 words, and the average daily word count is roughly 1,500 with a total of 38,000 words), I can't imagine the streak ending, but it will. Real life and other responsibilities have the power to destroy a streak, but then, there is no reason why I can't embark on a brand new streak. And by the way: one of the major components of the streak was turning off the critical part of my brain and just allowing the words to flow, but that's an entirely different post on writing.

The 1,000 words a day streak wasn't a conscious thing at first, and at one time that many words would have felt like a lot of pressure to get done every single day while working full time and trying to be a good and engaging husband. No, I simply wanted to write daily and gain momentum on a first draft I wanted to finish by March.

The streak began on the day I had oral surgery--I was numb and on pain meds (I haven't gone back and read that day's work, and for all I know it's some surrealistic nightmare love child of David Lynch, Dali, and Bunuel--mixed with High Plains Drifter and The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly which I watched that day). I even had a nice bacterial infection afterward which was quite painful and required two rounds of antibiotic to eradicate--the point is that I didn't allow any of that to get in my way or slow me down. The streak continued. It would have been easy to sit around watch film after film or binge-watch a series I hadn't gotten around to seeing yet (there's simply too much great programming these days to keep up).

If the idea of a streak interests you, then I say start small and allow it to build. Keep track if that helps you. Maybe keeping track or thinking about a streak stresses you out, then it isn't for you. In the end, every writer has their own method or little thing that helps them, like turning off the internet or shutting a door or writing at the same time every day.

The streak works for me.