top of page

Get email notification when new content is posted:

Thanks for submitting!

What is YOUR Million Words Project?

The video for weeks 30 and 31 can be viewed below, or at YouTube: https://youtu.be/dWthUyVELyw




What is YOUR Million Words Project?


Teaser

Writing is a central part of my life. I write to express my creativity, to find meaning in a sometimes seemingly meaningless world, and to better understand myself.

Writing, in various forms, is a key practice in my psychological, spiritual, and personal growth.

Writing is something I do, not just because I want to, but because, really, I NEED to.

And yet, despite knowing this, I still sometimes struggle to write. Maybe it is a time constraint. Maybe I'm lacking motivation. Maybe I'm distracted by other, less-important things. Maybe I'm just lazy or tired or sick. Maybe I'm writing, but the writing I'm doing is the wrong work, because I've chosen something easier or less important out of convenience. I encounter resistance to writing in many ways. And that's why I started this Million Words Project: To counteract the resistance to the work I genuinely want to do.

My struggles may sound familiar. The symptoms of resistance are similar, no matter who you are, or what your Big Thing project or life goal may be. But, just because my struggles may look like yours, that doesn't mean my answer for addressing them is the same path you should travel.

I'll talk about that, and give you an update on my progress toward one million new words, in this episode of...

Welcome

Welcome back to the Million Words Project. I'm Eric Sheridan Wyatt.

This video series chronicles my attempt to write one million new words in twelve months. If you've been following along, you'll know that I had some delays in getting videos produced and posted, even though the march toward one million words continues. Since the gap between the "real world" of my daily life and the "shared world" of these videos has grown a little too large, I am going to mostly be posting two-week updates, from here on out. That way, the video world will catch up to the real world a little more quickly.

So, let's get into the update for weeks thirty and thirty-one.


Update

Weeks 30 and 31 saw an end to the four-week stretch where I repeatedly fell short of the weekly target of 20,000 words. That's right, these two weeks saw me go back-to-back weeks above the target. Granted, week thirty was BARELY above 20,000 words, and week thirty-one was only slightly better. But, there is a great symbolic victory in putting a stop to the sub-par trend, and it felt good to see those totals.

As you can see, the word distribution was basically limited to three of the six categories I regularly monitor. And, there is a big outlier in this two-week period: In week thirty-one I wrote nearly ten thousand words in my morning journal! That's a huge week, especially considering I typically write about 5,500 words a week in the journal, on average.

Big life changes and lots of non-writing chaos was sparking a need to talk myself through some significant issues, and my morning pages is where a lot of that inner work gets done. Almost all of the changes that were happening were good, and exciting, but there was just a lot to process.

And, you'll see a decent number posted in the fiction column, which is indicative of a lingering carryover from my "fiction first" initiative I completed eight weeks earlier.

(As a sneak peak, I'll let you know, there is a fiction dry spell on the horizon, but, when I look at the data, I am impressed that after writing fifty-thousand words of fiction in five weeks, during that highly-focused sprint to finish a book draft, there was about ten weeks of after-effect, where the fiction writing was not as prominent, but still a decent part of the mix. I think this is some interesting information for me to consider as I move forward into the post-Million Words Project life.)

Finally, taking a quick look at the charts and graphs, we can see the ups and downs of my recent writing life in the chart on the lower left hand side which demonstrates the actual weekly word count, compared to the baseline, weekly target. Several spikes. A big dip, and then, a slow and steady return to normal. How long will that normalcy last? I guess you'll have to come back to this series to find out.

But, here's a thought that I had when I looked at that up and down graph: I think my weekly goal of 20,000 words is a pretty solid goal. Yes. There was a spike of 32,000 words in week twenty-three. And a big dip down to 13,000 words in week twenty-seven, but for the most part, throughout the thirty one weeks of data I have so far, 20,000 is a solid goal. Some weeks I exceed it. Some weeks I miss it. And that says to me, 20k is right in a sweet spot.

Can I do more than 20,000? Yes. Absolutely. Can I sustain something closer to 30,000 on a week-in week-out basis? I don't think so. Not with the way my life is currently structured. And, understanding how my life will be changing in the coming months, I am pretty confident that will not be the case.

Observing the data really helps me understand my own writing. The ebbs and flows. The constant shifting in balance. And, the reality of what I am accomplishing, in real time. And that's exactly the kind of information I needed this year.


Topic

Here's the thing. This Million Words Project is kind of a radical experiment. I had a very specific need I wanted to address, and it was kind of specific to my personal circumstances. I had come out of the Covid Response Era feeling like I'd lost all of my creative mojo, and, even worse, that my personal, psychological, and spiritual growth had been dampened because I just wasn't writing enough.

As I mentioned in the intro, I have multiple writing practices that help me navigate life on many levels. On a creative level, I write fiction—both short stories and novels—and I dabble in poetry, song lyrics, and the occasional script idea. On a business level, I write a lot of non-fiction such as blogs, video scripts, and essays, but the biggest portion of that is my work as a ghostwriter for biographies and life stories that clients are creating as literary legacies for their family and friends.

On a personal level, I journal almost every morning, using my modified version of Julia Cameron's morning pages. Additionally, I sometimes use a method of writing into and through deeper issues with a practice I call Writing Out Loud. And, on top of that, I often dedicate periods of time to writing using specific life-centered and psychologically significant writing prompts to help me continue to explore deeper issues.

And, to top it all off, I have an ongoing, multi-dimensional writing project I call my Life Document, which is a project that allows me to review, assess, and learn from events in my life from my childhood on.

I do a lot of writing. Or, at least, I do a lot of writing when things are firing on all cylinders. But, that writing is scattered and spread out, and sometimes, it's hard for me to know if I'm really approaching it all from a balanced and fruitful angle.

So, when I was feeling like things were out of whack in my writing life, what did I do?

Well. First, I wrote about it. Naturally. I started in the journal, and eventually did a formal Writing Out Loud session. I took a step back and began to evaluate just how accurate my perceptions were, compared to the reality. And, I kind of figured out that I was actually writing a lot more than I gave myself credit for. I just was a little out of balance.

And, it is easy to get out of balance in life. In any number of areas. Why? Because life is constantly throwing curve balls at us, pushing us around, or nudging us, or flat-out slapping us around with change. Constant change. There is no status quo. We have to constantly adjust to what is happening around us. Balancing and re-balancing are almost constant and perpetual.

Granted, for a lot of us, the changes and challenges are small and manageable, most of the time. We pivot. We re-balance. We adjust to the minor changes. It's all good. And, of course, no single one of us, no matter how charmed and fairytale our lives may be, can completely escape the big, dramatic, sometimes devastating changes that life inevitably presents us with.

The question for me was this: How do I provide myself with a method of tracking my progress that meets my need? Well, I first had to ask myself, what exactly is my need?

First, I needed to realign my perception. I perpetually felt as if I wasn't writing enough. But, that actually wasn't true. I was writing quite a bit. Room for improvement? Yes, indeed. But I had convinced myself that I was writing almost NOTHING. Which was a total fallacy.

Second, I needed to better understand my limits and capabilities, and do so in a way that would be realistic. Yes. In my mind, I can write seven books a year. In my reality, is that so?

Third, I needed a way to address three of the most common points of resistance in my writing life: time scarcity (or the perception of it), the pursuit of meaningful work compared to busy work, and a lacking external locus of motivation (which is another way of saying, sometimes my internal motivation isn't sufficient.)

All of that culminated in taking on The Million Words Project. This year-long quest is specifically designed to address my specific needs. And, despite the expected ups and downs, and a few surprises, it has mostly been a great motivator for me and a consistent grounding in the reality that sometimes contradicts my perception.

But, what works for me might not be the right thing for you. And in the Takeaway and Points to Ponder sections, I'll address that a little more.

Inspiration

Often, I use this inspiration section to share a quote from someone famous, hoping to inspire you in your own creative or personal growth. Today, I'm going to share a concept: Thrive.

Thrive is a word that has come up over and over in my journaling and deep writing work, recently. I have a lot of personal changes happening, and as we move and re-set our lives a little bit, the concept of THRIVING has been on my mind a lot.

Setting up a new house, a new workspace...settling into a new community...embracing the life changes that are ahead...I'm attempting to create an environment in which I can not just live, not just survive, but THRIVE.

THRIVING takes planning and intention. It requires focus and effort.

There is, for me, always a tension between planning and executing, though. I am naturally good at planning, analyzing, and coming up with a game plan. Follow through can sometimes be a little shaky, and I need to do BOTH, not just one.

This is the great lesson of the second half of my life...honestly. Honor the cerebral, head space—because planning and learning can be great assets—but it's only when I follow through, into the body-centered arena of actually DOING the work that the full impact of all of those plans and ideas and creative ways of accomplishing something can be realized.

Which brings us to a quote, that I think is unattributed to a single person. I've heard several similar lines but I'm going to share it this way: Plan as if you'll live forever, and act as if you'll die tomorrow.

In order to thrive, I do have to plan and be intentional, but I can't just let it stop there. I have to choose to act, today, on that plan. I have to translate intention into action. That's where the magic happens.

Takeaway

These two weeks hit during a time of transition, and a time when I was attempting to return to a solid baseline writing life after some unforeseen setbacks.

Because I had this ongoing project, I had a somewhat artificial accountability structure to fall back on. In any real sense, whether or not I am successful with the Million Words challenge is inconsequential. No one is paying me to do this. I won't lose money if I fail. I might loose a little bit of pride, but I probably have more PRIDE than I actually need. And, while writing is a big part of my life, and a very important one, it isn't the only thing in my life. There are lots of amazing and grand things going on that wouldn't be directly affected if I don't make my goal.

But, having a method of some kind in place has been a huge factor in keeping myself on track, getting myself back on track when circumstances have overwhelmed me, and helping me learn more about my writing, and myself.

Points to Ponder

I want to challenge you to find a Million Words Project. No. Not MY Million Words Project. Instead, I want you to consider how you could construct some sort of project or framework or tracking system that will address these three items:

First, how can you keep yourself focused on meaningful work? Almost every Big Thing we want to accomplish in life comes with a fair share of distractions and things that influence the work, but aren't a core part of finding meaning and purpose. A lot of those distractions are even necessary to living life. Very few of us can be a semi-monastic recluse, squirreled away in the woods by a lake toiling endlessly on the Big Thing. Instead, we have to find ways to strike a balance between the rest of life and our Big Thing dreams.

Second, how can you address the issue of time scarcity? This ties directly into the balancing act of the first point, but it also has its own set of challenges. Even when you can conceive of a balanced life that will allow you to spend some meaningful time on your Big Thing project or dream, there ARE only a limited number of hours in a day. What can you do to carve out some time for what you really want to accomplish?

Finally, how will you handle the need for self-motivation? I'm guessing that most of you are like me: No one is standing over you, telling you to get that dream accomplished. No one is paying you to do the work. You're having to FIND time, and FIND energy, and FIND motivation.

For me, this Million Words Project has helped answer these questions. Your solution will likely be completely different. Working out some structured method of proceeding that allows you to track measurable targets and promotes your specific goals in your specific situation...well...that's something worth figuring out.

And, for those of you over achievers out there, the last piece of the puzzle is finding a way to hold yourself accountable to actually doing the work. Actually implementing the system.

For me, part of that accountability is posting these videos. For you, maybe it will be joining a small group of others who regularly meet to talk about your progress. Or, finding a mentor-type person to whom you give regular updates.

Farewell

This has been a long episode! I thought I might save some time by combining weeks, but maybe I'll just have more to talk about!

I guess we'll find out. I hope you'll come back and join me.

Thanks for being a part of my year-long challenge.

Until next time, I want to remind you that your words matter. Make them count.


9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page