500 Words A Day

Friday, December 8, 2017
By Kara Timmins

Timmins's book cover

We’re honored to have sci-fi/fantasy author (and years-long Beeminder fan) Kara Timmins guest-blogging for us today about her secret to getting novels published. Ok, it’s not a secret. I mean, if we had our way it would be the diametric opposite of a secret. In case you haven’t guessed, it’s Beeminder. We really can’t get over how great it feels when people do amazing life-changing things, like writing their first novel, with the help of Beeminder!


 

“I can’t believe 2017 is almost over.”

If you haven’t heard that yet, prepare yourself. It’s coming. It’s the twin to “Can you believe it’s June already? I feel like it was just New Years!” Time goes by fast, oftentimes shockingly so.

Now think about something that you’ve been wanting to do that will take you a long time to accomplish. For me it was writing a book, and given that millions of people have the same goal, you may well want to write one too. But it is a big mountain to climb. So big, in fact, that most people never get around to getting the words out of their head.

The difference between getting that book out of your imagination and into the world lives in that “I can’t believe it’s already June” space. You can write a full-length novel in six months. That may sound daunting if you haven’t done it before, but I promise, it goes by fast.

Now here’s the guy-in-a-shiny-suit sales pitch: you can write that book of your dreams with just a few small payments of 500 words each. I wrote my first two novels at a pace of 500 words a day. That’s 200,000 words 500 words at a time. By the third book, writing 500 words was easier so I kept going, cutting my completion time by two months.

Give up the idea that writing happens when you feel the artistic urge to sit down and work

There is one thing I had to give up to make this happen: the idea that writing happened when I was feeling the artistic urge to sit down and work. With my new goal, I didn’t have to write a lot, but I had to do it every day. It’s not always easy. Sometimes the right words don’t find their way to the forefront of my mind, but there is no negotiation. If the word count isn’t 500 words more than what it was yesterday, I don’t get to go to sleep.

This takes willpower and determination, two things I didn’t have enough of to get me through a full novel, let alone the three I wanted to write for this trilogy. When I was in high school, I had a teacher tell me I was “the queen of that’s good enough.” Some people are born with an internal drive to push themselves to do their best work. I had to work at it, and I needed help.

This is where Beeminder comes in… Of course, there are the financial repercussions of falling behind, but I also got to see my progress. Every dot on my graph really felt like a step up that mountain. Every entry became a reward. Every gap a representation of stagnation.

Here’s what it looked like for my first book — 90,169 words in six months in 2015:

Kara's Beeminder graph for writing

I’m writing this to take the elusiveness out of writing that book in your head. It’s only 500 words a day. If that feels like too much, come back to this post. It’s exactly 500 words.

Not so bad, right?


 

Kara Timmins was born in Berwyn, Illinois, raised in Temecula, California, and attended college at University of California, Berkeley where she studied Biological Anthropology. She brings her keen interest in evolutionary processes and natural systems into the fantasy genre with her first major release, Eloy’s Discovery — which is book one in a trilogy. Kara currently resides in Tacoma, Washington with her husband and three dogs.

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  • Clark Wilson

    Hearty congrats on finishing and publishing your novel and completing three novels!

    Does “500 words” mean “500 new words entered from scratch into/onto some medium”? The question may seem dumb except a 500-words-a-day group I know of explicitly says people following its discipline/practice can count (say) a half hour of editing as one’s day’s 500 words.

  • Kara Timmins

    Thank you so much.

    For Me, 500 words is new words entered. Editing is a different beeminder. I’ve done it by pages or chapters, bit it’s a trickier monster. I’m working on editing book two right now, and I like the idea that every half hour of editing could be a beeminder point.

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    This reminds me to mention that our Draft integration counts words added *plus* words deleted. It’s a nice way to get credit for both writing and editing. I should also mention our previous blog post for with instructions for automatically beeminding word count for writers: https://blog.beeminder.com/write/

  • Clark Wilson

    Thanks for the links. I’m looking at those integrations.