Today is the last day of the fall writing season. It’s time to reflect on what did and didn’t work.
My approach with Daily Refills showed some success and some failure. It both worked and didn’t. I was successful at writing a lot of short pieces on tight deadlines. I took some real pleasure in those pieces. I learned a lot about the rhythm of pieces of that length, and how long a piece could be before it would be impossible to get it edited and published in time every day. Reading over the pieces later, I think a lot of them are successful, and I’ve had the extremely gratifying experience of readers telling me that they enjoyed certain pieces, that certain pieces made them laugh. And it was definitely fun to play more directly with fiction. With the exception of the “Ben Writes About Stuff” pieces, just about everything posted in Daily Refills was either pure fiction or at least fictionalized. (Further credence to my argument that Free Refills is not a blog.)
However, doing Daily Refills and setting them apart from and not included in my 5000 didn’t work. Yes, I’m nine months into the practice of every-weekday publishing, and I still haven’t missed a day, so that part worked, but what I learned–what didn’t work–is that trying to bring a piece from start to finish in one day just demanded too much energy. Sure, that I didn’t include their word counts in my weekly 5000 had the nice effect that I certainly worked harder on my writing this fall than I have since my Double Month Writing Month back in January and February of 2012, when I wrote 100,000 words of zero-draft fiction (an experiment I intend to never repeat). That’s gratifying in some ways, but the energy cost was just too high.
My choice to do the Daily Refills was highly influenced by my favorite webcomics, preeminently XKCD. Randall Munroe has been posting a new comic every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for years, and pretty much every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I check his site first thing. He does excellent work and I really enjoy it.
But the webcomic medium and prose writing are two different things, and while it was edifying to practice short, self-contained pieces, I found that ultimately it was getting in the way of doing anything more ambitious. And my ambition is pretty clear to myself: it’s time for me to start–seriously start–working on the books that are calling me to write them. And that means making them the focus of my writing concentration.
I can’t call any process in which I’ve learned as much as I did over the past 3 months a failure. But it’s time to change my focus to something more sustainable and more in line with my long-term goals.