How Do You Do It?

Sorry I’ve been gone all week. The day job got really heavy and I couldn’t spare a thought for blog or WIP.

I mean, am I the only one who gets so focused on her job that sometimes, there’s no room for creativity? I read with great envy of those who write every day in the hundreds, even thousands, of words and I panic a little thinking I must be deficient. Surely, the only way to truly be a writer is to carve out enough time in every day–holiday, weekend or workday–to do at least 2,000 words. 10,000, if what they say about Stephen King is to be believed.

And yet…I remind myself that when I started writing at the ripe old age of 9, I had no conception of writing every day, or reaching a daily word count. I simply had a story burning inside me that I took great joy in writing down whenever I could find the spare time.

Now, when you have a deadline and a job, everything is different. I wouldn’t encourage you to stop and smell the roses if you procrastinate at every excuse–like I do!–and your bills depend on you meeting your deadline. An author–which I define as someone who expects to get paid–has to do their job every day. And if you wish to be an author as well as a writer, then that means buckling down.

I’ve been trying to do daily writing myself, but with a difference. I permit myself to write what I can. Rather than put forth the frankly unrealistic goal of hundreds or thousands of words, I tell myself that I can write three good sentences and stop. Sure, I write long sentences, so sometimes I can get a solid 60 – 100 words out of that. But mostly it’s 20 – 50. I encourage myself to do it by thinking about the fact that progress is progress. Whether you write a little or a lot, it will all add up. And some progress is better than no progress.

This tactic works better than I thought for two reasons. For one, I rarely stop at three sentences. I usually have my train of thought together by then, and I can knock off 100 – 500 words in 15 minutes once that happens. Not a major time outlay–so I can squeeze it in before I fall into bed–but solid words nonetheless. The second thing I’ve noticed is I have fallen into the habit of writing every day, not excuses. And if I don’t write, it’s for a very good reason–like last week’s conference in a hotel with intemperate wifi that kept me out of my Dropbox.

These are two side effects that will stand me in good stead in my professional life, I think. And I’ve managed to do it without stomping out the fun I have writing with a routine I can’t realistically achieve, and that will leave me feeling inferior and uninspired.

So the lesson learned? It’s perfectly alright to do whatever it takes to find your flow. And don’t hold yourself to other peoples’ standards–we are all different as writers and it’s okay to do your own thing, as long as you just do it. Writing I mean.

So how do you do it? Is it about the daily goal for you? The sudden inspiration? That moment the kids are asleep and the husband is in front of Monday night football?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear the process other writers have. I will probably even try a few.

 

4 comments

  1. A friend and I are actually keeping a spreadsheet not only of our daily wordcount, but also factors that interfere with our writing. So if not much writing gets done on a given day, we put a mark next to the relevant categories (including health, internet, relationship dramas, work, etc. and other) and a little note about what the issue was. It’s interesting to see what is actually impacting.

    1. That does sound interesting! What an awesome way to track the reason for procrastination, and perhaps manage to avoid it. Thanks for the new method to consider!

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