Your Writing Chain Is a Beautiful, Ponderous Thing

Before I get rolling with this post, I have a little announcement. Actually, it’s a pre-announcement because what I’m announcing is still waiting for approval.

Those of you following me on Twitter know that I’ve been busy writing my first iPhone application. Well, the app is done and waiting for approval with the good folks at Apple and here’s a little information about it. I’ll be posting much more about this in the weeks to come…

writechain-status.jpg
WriteChain… waiting for approval at the App Store. Ain’t it grand?

WriteChain is an application that tracks word counts, but it also does just a little bit more. It keeps track of your “writing chain” and by doing so it helps you focus on keeping the writing chain going. The 1.0 release is simple and efficient. You set up daily goals and then you just pop in and record word counts each day. Bit by bit, your chain will grow.

What in the world is a writing chain? I’m glad you asked… :)

The Beautiful, Ponderous Chain of Writing

“It’s a terrible, ponderous chain you are making, Scrooge!”

~ Jacob Marley

I suppose that’s how I looked at writing when I first started out: ponderous and terrible.

When I first started writing, I was too good to worry about conventions or the practice habits of better writers. I was above all that. I had talent and that was all I needed.

Of course, I soon learned that writing was a lot more than just a talent for words. It was about dedication and perseverance. It was about intense devotion to craft. It was about long hours in the chair, strung together like links in some tremendous chain.

But unlike the chain of Scrooge and Marley, a writer’s chain is something quite different. Sure there is pain there but there is also joy. It is not a terrible thing we’re forging but something wonderful and beautiful…

Forging My Chain

If I had to pinpoint the time I figured this out, I suppose it was the day I crossed the 1 million-word mark in my journal.

I’d been writing daily for a few years, and out of curiosity I went back and added up the work. To my surprise, I discovered I had just a snit over 1 million words in my journals.

I thought the sheer volume was sort of impressive, then I looked deeper and noticed there was a marked improvement in the work itself just after I took up the habit of recording daily word counts for each session. From that point forward, I could see myself pushing harder. I made side comments on certain days when the word count was “low”. I smacked myself around for a half effort and often went back to write more. I marveled at sessions comprising thousands of words (some of which were actually in the right order). I also noticed that the words appeared to come so much easier.

Bit by bit, I’d forged a chain of writing sessions. I learned that if one wanted to be a writer they had to write just a little more each and every day. I just needed to forge my chain.

In other words, I got better as long as I was working consistently.

Starting a New Chain

That chain is now well over 2 million words, but it’s also missing a few links. It happens. Life comes calling and the first thing to go is the writing.

This is one of the reasons I wrote this post in the first place. Obviously, I’ve been quite busy of late and my chain is feeling a bit weak. Writing a bit about this will not only help strengthen the chain but it’s also what this site is all about: helping other writers by exposing my own processes (good and bad).

Even if you don’t have a fancy gizmo to track your words, you can do it the way I did it for the first million words: just write it down. Start today. Right now. That’s what I’m going to do. :)


Editor’s Note: If all goes well, WriteChain should be available in the App Store in a few days for just $0.99.

10 thoughts on “Your Writing Chain Is a Beautiful, Ponderous Thing

  1. Gotta ask: is the emoticon at the end of the post 1 word? 1,000 words (it is a picture, after all), or somewhere in between (because it’s a little picture)?

    I love the concept! And I’m wondering if there’s a WordPress plugin for that!

    Tim Wilson´s last blog post..Blogroll Update+

  2. @Whitney Thanks!!

    @Heather Well, you could always get an iPod Touch. It should work just fine on that too. 😉

    @Tim I think it definitely counts for more than one word, but maybe not quite 1,000 in this case. I haven’t come across a WordPress plugin that will do this (or keep the actual count of a post itself). Hmmm. Maybe I have another project? lol

    @Marc That’s exactly the feeling I have right now. This was a fun project, and I’m looking forward to the next one. However, I’m also looking forward to a nice stint of writing.

  3. Jamie, if you keep up this kind of cleverness, I may actually have to invest in some sort of 21st-century technology just to admire and enjoy it.

  4. The iPhone user + writer-in-me rejoices! I cross my fingers along with you for speedy approval.

    Your observations about writing make me proud(er) to be a writer, and so many ring true for me in my own practices and processes. Thanks.

    Tracie W.´s last blog post..WTF?

  5. @Rebecca LOL. Well, I can always print out screenshots and send them to you via postal mail. 😉

    @Tracie That’s just the kind of thing I love to hear!

  6. Very cool, Jamie. I started discussing an iPhone app with a developer — but the more we hashed it out, the more we realized there was no money in it. Neither of us has time to devote in creating a free app. Glad I have an iPod Touch — will be waiting for it!

  7. Man, I can’t believe I’ve been away from the blogosphere for so long. It looks like you have a lot of good stuff here I need to catch up on right away.

    I’ve been feeling the same way of late. Actually, no, I’ve been in a right funk, and a big part of it is likely because my chain not only weakened in past months but broke altogether. If I didn’t wake up this morning with a new drive to get writing again, you’ve given me one. It’s time to forge a new chain.

    A. B. England´s last blog post..Star Trek: My Introduction into Science Fiction

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