The time has come to start work on my next project.
About a month ago, I finished a draft of a memoir about my bout with melanoma last year, and while I think it’s kind of interesting, I don’t expect that it is going to be very interesting to many other people.
So now, today, I’m starting work on a new writing project. The project has several requirements, and I think I’ve come up with an idea that fulfills all of them. Here are the requirements:
- It must be the sort of thing that I would be interested in reading.
- It must be something that others will also be interested in.
- It must be highly creative (as opposed to only informative: The form of the work, not just the substance, should be one motivation to read it).
- It must be in my wheelhouse as a writer. I’m not a natural comedy writer, I’m not great with complex plots, I’m not a master of nuance. What I think I’m good at is clear description, thoughtful analysis, and the occasional artful turn of phrase.
- The core of the work must be based on factual material.
- It must be book-length.
The only way for me to finish a large project like this is to commit to a certain amount of work each day. I finished my memoir by writing 600 words a weekday, and I think when I get to the actual writing phase, that’s about what I will need to commit to this project. I’d like to finish this project in about a year. If I wrote every weekday for a year that would be a pretty long book — 156,000 words — but at the outset I will need to do some planning, and I will be taking some time off for vacations, and of course, I’ll need some time at the end for revisions. A better goal is probably around 100,000 words, total. It’s still a long-ish book but I don’t think that’s so long as to be impractical. (For what it’s worth, here’s an interesting post on word-lengths of famous books.)
So there, it’s decided: Over the next year I’m going to be writing a book of about 100,000 words. I want to either write 600 words a day or do two solid hours of planning or revision. That may seem slow, but I’ve found much more than that ends up being too taxing. Obviously if I’m on a roll on a given day, I’m not going to stop myself; the key is to never allow myself to fall short of that goal.
I’m not planning on giving a blow-by-blow of the progress, or to announce much publicly about the substance of the work until it’s finished. But I do want to make this public statement about my intentions as a way of holding myself accountable for the plan. Wish me luck!