And again, I let a deadline slip in the dead of night. (Hence, the photo.)
I’ve come to the conclusion that I will have to redouble my efforts to increase my writing production. And for once, my obsession with reblogging writing advice and other odds and ends from the Internet ether might pay off.
I have to say, I’ve long been amazed by romance novelists and people like James Patterson, Joyce Carol Oats, The Stevie King, and others to pump out oodles and oodles of packs of words every few months or so. I consider myself at this point to be somewhere in the neighborhood of George R.R. Martin, late J.D. Salinger, or, moving to another medium, Terence Malick in productivity. As much as I’d like to thing that I’m producing quality work, I want to produce more of it. Right now my hope is that I become a Frank McCourt of fiction, maturing at a far later age than most other writers. But, I want to do it sooner.
I came across this article when I was link farming last Saturday. I’m not sure when I’m running it – likely sometime on #WritingAdviceWednesday aka #WAW. But it impressed me, fellow writers. The more I read the article, the more it started to make sense to me.
I don’t want to recap the article (you can follow the link if you want to), but I wanted here to discuss some of the major ideas this author presented and give my take on them. As you might suspect, I found the majority of the advice to be relevant and useful, and some of it different than I had ever heard previously.
Set a daily word count goal
– I debated this idea for some time. So many times I had set goals, only to default on them for one reason or another, although my overall writing production has only increased overall in recent years. The article suggests daily word counts of 1-3,000 words per day. My current average word count per day (not counting blogging or other nonfiction writing) is between 270 and 460 words per day during the past four weeks.
These are people that have produced dozens and dozens of books, so I had to take a step back and consider what they were saying. Even if I have work throughout the week, I have to think that I can get up to 1,000 per day, at least if I am not revising existing writing.
As I say to some of the kids that I teach, having a goal is wonderful, but you need a plan for how you are going to achieve that goal. Some of the other bits of advice seem to lead into this direction…
Time yourself and your breaks
…but maybe not this one. With a schedule that is as changeable and malleable as mine during the school year, I have to take my opportunities to write when I can. I think 30 minutes at a time makes sense, but the timer seems to be a bit much to me.
Don’t get stuck on specific words
This seems frankly brilliant to me. So many times I wanted to do the right turn of phrase, but get stuck on it. I just need to do #($*&%&#* sometimes, count it as a word and move on. (I should probably use real words so they show up on the word count. It reminded me of the story behind the writing of “Hey Jude.” (via Wikipedia):
When introducing the composition to Lennon, McCartney assured him that he would “fix” the line “the movement you need is on your shoulder”, reasoning that “it’s a stupid expression; it sounds like a parrot.” Lennon replied: “You won’t, you know. That’s the best line in the song.” McCartney retained the phrase; he later said of his subsequent live performances of the song: “that’s the line when I think of John, and sometimes I get a little emotionhttps://wordpress.com/post/liegoismedia.wordpress.com/705al during that moment.”
Start on an odd-numbered page
Not sure how well this will work for me. I pay more attention to word count than anything else.
Train your other senses
Good advice. Candles and music work very well with me. Sludge metal and intriguing techno like Deep Forest are things I find stimulating in recent years.
Set boundaries with your family and friends
This would be valid if my wife and kids bothered me when trying to write. They don’t. I do enough distracting on my own.
If you’re stuck, write like crap for a few minutes
Everyone feels like a fraud
Start small, but write every day
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I’m going to be phasing in a new
1,000-word-per-day 500 words per day writing goal. I want to try some of the techniques I mentioned here first to see if they have an effect.
I’ll give you the lowdown when I know how it went down.
4 thoughts on “Getting Back On It.”
A lot of the advice in the article is good advice. Word counts and quantity can be very hard standards to set, though, and vary widely among writers, whether professional or not. I’ve never been able to write with both quantity and quality the way some writers do. It would take me another decade probably if I wanted to write over 1000 words every day. Art is so subjective, and we all do it differently and have different goals. I’ve found it more important to know when to do the writing marathon, and when to let a few sentences–or even words–suffice.
I’m not sure what kind of teacher you are, but most likely you have very little free time. So I would simply encourage you to be kind to yourself, and remember fiction writing takes a lot of mental energy, exercising of your creativity, and time to build up a regimen.
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I might be taking your advice as well: