(Hop on over to the app, if you like: You Need to Write).
So, I built something yesterday. Something digital; it’s not like I can hand you a spice rack and exclaim, “Look what I have built! Look at those butt joints with squeeze-out and crooked brad nails. I built that!” (Yes, I watch a lot of This Old House episodes, and I Like to Make Stuff and frank howarth YouTube videos).
I am motivated by numbers. Depending on the context, they are lovely when going up, rising by the power of compounding interest or more lovelier when they are falling, as with the twenty-four pounds I’ve lost over the past few months. Numbers give me a tangible goal; something to focus on when the doubt and monotony and emotional fluctuations that I tend to harbor kick up and I’m blinded by the doubt and monotony. Numbers are absolute, infallible, immutable. They are something that can be trusted (where numbers get hazy are when the math behind them are incorrect, and that’s usually due to the fallible human behind the math).
Now, I have a goal of writing a novel by the time I’m forty. That’s the first number in this equation. There are 105 days between now and then; the second number. After researching how long a novel should be, I decided on 80,000 words to be my rough goal. The third number for our equation leads to the fourth and final number: how many words I’ve already written, which clocks in at a scant 1,883 words as of this morning. Now, given all those numbers, the question arises:
How many words do I have to write today?
It plagues me. This minimum number of words that I need to write today is a motivator. I am finding out that no one likes the actual act of writing; we all like having written (I don’t know if this is true for everyone but it is indeed true for me). As long as I know what the minimum number of words that have to be eked out of my sleepy brain is, that’s all I have to focus on. 80,000 words are much too daunting!
As of this morning, I know that I have to write 744 words, every day, to meet my goal:
(80000 - 1883) / 105 = 743.971428571
It’s a relatively easy equation but one I have to do every morning. And, when I get up in the morning, make my cup of coffee and pop open my novel, the last thing I want to do is a calculation to figure out what the minimum number of words I need to write for the day are.
So, being a software programmer, I made a little SAAS (Software As A Service) product. It’s an MVP (Minimum Viable Product – Jeebus, don’t you love tech and all of our cutesy acronyms </sarcasm>). You Need to Write is something I built yesterday. The weather was overcast and misty when I started. I didn’t shower. I drank my coffee. The Pugger hacked and coughed and pooped and slept while his momma coded. Now, when I get up in the morning, I open that website, and it tells me how many words I need to write. Simple. Don’t even need to start my computer; I can view it on my cell phone.
Feel free to use it. I hope you will. I’m not selling you anything or trying to goad you into buying my book (because I haven’t even written one yet!). I just had an itch I needed to scratch, and I imagine other people have the same desire. You don’t even need to log in or share your email address or click an affiliate link. Nothing of yours is stored on the server, and I have no way of knowing what your word goals are. Although, I’m thinking of implementing a login system because I hate that I have to re-enter my settings for each new device and browser. I’m also contemplating adding the ability to enter how many words you write on a given day so there’s a history of your writing schedule, which will also update the current number of words written. Please, give it a test drive and, if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it. Even if it’s negative feedback—especially if it’s negative!
Tomorrow, instead of writing here on the blog or writing code in my text editor, I’ll get back to writing the novel. And, I’ll pop open You Need to Write to see how many words I’ve got to bang out to keep pace with my goal. And, by the time my fortieth birthday comes around, I’ll have given the gift of a novel to myself.
Image of a farm in Carlisle, Massachusetts, taken by me.