A simple system

In 2017, I failed to write a novel and instead wound up creating this website, Notepad cabin.

The idea was to create a place where I could write about things of interest, things that I might jot down in a notepad.

It would also serve as a platform to publish my fiction.

When I (eventually) finished the site, I started writing again with a simple aim of achieving consistency. I needed a very basic framework, so decided to write 500 words per day. Naturally, I fired up Google sheets and made this simple spreadsheet to track my writing:



What was I actually writing?

There was no set thing I was writing. I avoided labels like ‘novel’. It was just writing.

The main purpose was consistency.

But out of this writing, complete stories did begin to form anyway. It also opened up little experiments, like on the the 16th November when my cousin gave me the three writing prompts: ‘bomb’, ‘three characters’, and ‘gravity’, which led to the short story Blasted.


How did I perform?

For 102 days I stayed pretty consistent. I gained confidence and built up momentum. It was going well enough that on the 8th November 2017, 67 days after I had started, I increased the daily minimum to 750 words per day.

More of a challenge, but it’s what I needed at that stage to prevent plateauing.

By going from 500 to 750 per day, I was increasing my daily minimum by 50%.

That went well, within 14 days I had written 14, 747 words, an average of 1,053 words per day.

So, in the two weeks before this increase, my daily average was 622 words per day.

But, two weeks after this increase my average was 1,053 words per day.

That’s an increase of 69.29%

So I got a way bigger increase than I thought I would, because I found myself breaking through the 750 mark and heading more for 1,000.

So far… so good.


And then… Christmas happened.

Around Christmas time my writing became very inconsistent. Too much beer, too much chocolate, too much down time, you know the story. Towards the end the spreadsheet looked bleak, like a battlefield. Mortar blasts of blank spaces as writing days became like the last few stray soldiers clinging on:



What were the outcomes?

The final count stood at 68,677 words. Which is sort of funny, because that’s about the amount of words you need for an average novel. So I wrote the equivalent of a novel in about 100 days, without meaning to, something I hadn’t manage in the entirety of 2017. With just the basic system of 500 words per day.

Ultimately, in the end, I derailed myself, sabotaged by my own lack of self-discipline and focus. Maybe it was unsustainable. But, in that process I’m pretty sure I improved as a writer. Even if I didn’t, I improved by ability to remain consistent. Still needs more work.

I learnt the effectiveness of simplicity.

I also learnt that consistency is king. It grows confidence and resilience (even if it was only for 100-ish days).


What next?

It has taken me a few months to get back on track, still wallowing in that Christmas hangover.

From now, I want to continue to write posts on Notepad cabin, expand the content, and publish more short stories on here.

But, ultimately, what I need most is a piece of work (a novel, for example), that has been fully realised, re-drafted, and is ready to be shipped.

So that’s what I’m working on…


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