Sunday, 28 February 2010

Pride and Persistence

I usually start classes with a word count. In turn, everybody has to say how many words they've written since the last class. No one checks on the accuracy or otherwise of the word count, so in theory you can lie, claim to have written 11,567 words over the past week and then bask in the collective oohs and ahhs from the rest of the class, as if a firework has just exploded overhead in a shimmer of light.

But I don't think people do lie. People state their word count and if it's zero they blush, and twist their hair and contort their bodies and pull faces, just like toddlers being caught out. And the excuses! Sob stories, tales of woe, the occasional barefaced 'I didn't have time'. The rest of the class boos and throws cabbages at them. (But only metaphorically.)

But even though the boos are unheard and the cabbages are invisible, just the pressure of having to admit a zero word count to our peer group is enough to push people to write. There are quite a lot of confessions to the writing having been done the evening before, or even the morning of class - and I've even had a notebook waved filled with scribbles written as the student walked along the corridor, but hey - who cares? It's writing.

And writing is what it's about. Being proud of being a writer, and persisting with it until you get something written. You can always go back and edit later, but you need the raw material to start with. Set yourself a daily word target, proudly announce when you've achieved it and give yourself a reward. (Chocolate biscuits work for me which is why my bottom is the shape it is.) many words have you written this weekend?


Ann Patey said...

What are you on about? You have a lovley bottom!

Sarah Duncan said...

Ah, that's nice!