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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Penciling It In

Writing something like a book takes a long time. It can't be done in one sitting. You must commit to spending weeks (months...years...) coming back again and again to the computer or pad of paper and work on that story.

How much of that story would get written if we waited for the right mood to strike us?

One piece of advice I read over and over was that one needed to commit to a schedule if one wanted to be a writer. I would have to set aside some time, at the same time every day, and spend that time writing. But this I could not do (at the time my work schedule would not permit me to write at the same time every day).

Like most writing advice, it was good in the general, but not so great in the specific. As writers, we must find what works for us, and what works for us might not be the ideal set-up for someone else.

I had to do something that would work for me. It couldn't be too much or I'd never get it done. Or, I'd get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and I'd drop it like a New Year's resolution. Even a little writing done every day will get a novel written--it'll just take a longer time.

I started by writing a page of something, anything, every day. Some days that was garbage. But the most important thing was getting into the habit, and once I got into the habit, the habit stuck.

Nowadays, I have weekly goals. I set my goals per page (between 600 and 700 words). In a week, I aim for 12 pages or around 8000 words. I break that down into three writing sessions. (The days of being able to write everyday are gone.) Some weeks, this is easy. Others (this one, for example), this task seems nearly impossible. But I keep at it. That's all I can do.

My question of the day: What does your schedule look like?

15 comments:

Liza said...

I try to get a little writing done every day, before I go to work. On good days, I also write when I get home. There aren't as many good days as their used to be.

stu said...

At the moment, it looks like whatever will fit around the writing I do for other people, and it frequently does come down to whenever I'm in the mood. I know that's not the way many people like it, but at least I'm assured that when I am writing, I'm completely in that moment, not thinking about other things.

L. Blankenship said...

Habits are powerful things. Even if you can only squeeze half an hour of writing into your day, it's worth it to build up the habit.

I write every day. If I'm between projects, I spend that time working on the next project. The habit's pulled me through sticky spots and gotten me over humps and I'll protect the habit any way I can.

Petro Neagu said...

I think everything in life should fall under this rule: do whatever suits you best. I try and do that as much as I can, but unfortunately, I'm not my own boss and I need to obey some other people's rules too :)

Hugs

Donna Hole said...

Yep, I pencil it in :) I sit and hopefully get one or two scenes further along, even if they are out of order, just to get something down. I know I need to get better organized, but this works, especially since I write more short stories than anything. I make enough progress the essential idea can take root, and then in one weekend I'll dedicate to getting it completed, or revised, or queried.

Not a great system, but I've got four short stories published with it :)

.......dhole

Jemi Fraser said...

My life is barely controlled chaos most of the time, so I don't even pretend to have a schedule. I generally write in the evenings once the work and family stuff is all done. And I do my best :)

Alicia C. said...

I'm much the same as Donna and L. I write between clients. And then probably for an hour or so before bed. Sometimes in huge chunks on the weekends. This seems to be working quite well..though the one thing I'm missing is time to read.

Liz said...

I'm awed that you write before you go to work. I could never get up early to write. I'm way too lazy for that.

Liz said...

At least you are writing. If I waited for the mood to strike, it never would. But we're all different and we must do what works for us.

Liz said...

That's my ideal. It took me a long time to get a good habit going.

Liz said...

True.

Liz said...

If it works for you, then it's organized enough.

Liz said...

Your best is all you can do. Life gets in the way sometimes.

Liz said...

That sounds like a schedule to me. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Charity Bradford said...

Love the "find what works for you" part of this. For the summer my goal is simple--1 hour of writing a day. It can be any time of the day and it can be revising if that's what's needed. This keeps me in the habit and moving forward, but allows me to still give my summer to my kids.