Today a college professor asked me if I’d come and speak to his class about alternative forms of writing—specifically, blogging. We talked about my 1,000 posts and I told him that if someone would have asked me when I started how many posts I thought I’d write, I might have be ambitious and said 100.
Then I started to think what I’d say if a student asked me how I came up with 1,000 posts. The answer that quickly came to mind was “bird by bird”—borrrowed from Anne Lamott (who lifted it from her father):
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
That’s good advice for quite a few situations in life. In screenwriting terms, if you write a page a day—you’ll have a screenplay in about three months. One thing that did help me with the blog was I was aiming for a 50,000 word book. Once you write ten 1,000 word posts and have 10,000 words in the can, it gives you a measure of confidence.
Stephen King says a goal of writing a novel can be accomplished in three months by just writing 1,000 words a day. That simple, practical, mathematical advice is always good to remember when your brain gets fogged thinking about art and inspiration. Writers write.
FYI: I took the above picture today of the mother and four baby birds that have been our house guest for the last week or so.