Thursday, 4 December 2008

Out for the count

The thing is with writing, it's all about consistency. Like running a marathon, one footstep at a time, or one keystroke on the keyboard at a time. My previous attempts at writing have been in spurts, no consistency, like a hundred metres dash, say several thousand words one day for example, and none for a week after that. It takes regularity, sitting down and whacking out the words day after day after day, and that's the mindset I now need to get into.

Some writers when they write like to set a goal to attain when writing, say a certain number of pages or number of words to be done by the end of the day. In fact, the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty is all about that, setting the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month, with an average of 1,667 words a day.

I've tried that, and a week in to trying just could not continue, having attained 10,000 words and got disheartened when I wasn't making the daily goal of 1,667 words. I probably was torturing myself by checking the word-count every five minutes, and seeing it increase only gradually. The biggest problem with setting off with such a goal when you're not used to writing that much so quickly is that on a day when you miss your target, you realise you're so much further behind, and the total for tomorrow grows bigger and bigger until it seems impossible and you abandon the project. Or you spend so much time drawing up spreadsheets on Excel (or whatever program you choose to use) calculating the word-counts, that in the end the spreadsheet gets more attention than the WIP (Work In Progress).

But no more. Back to the writing. I guess it's like taking up exercise (not that I know what that is, having shied away from exercise in fear after the bullying at school in the gym lessons), you have to start slowly. Yesterday, for example, I started off at a slow pace, writing a little something with 302 words. I did not know how much I was going to write, but stopped when I felt I'd done enough. This seems like a reasonable start, and I aim to crack out a further 300 words today. It's not a lot, but perhaps an attainable target, write about 300 words a day. I can work on building this up in the future, maybe later setting the bar at 500 words a day, then a thousand and so on.

So what of a goal? I read somewhere that the average novel is about 100,000 words, so that's what I'm aiming at with each of my novels for now, plodding on until the story's told, with an aim of about 100K. I'm going to set up separate pages on this blog with the word-counts for each project, so that daily I can update the blog with a record of how I'm doing.

And that's the thing, it has to be done daily. No excuses, I must make time to do it when I come home from work, before going out shopping on a Saturday, etc.

No excuses.


I've probably convinced you, the reader, at this stage of my good intentions; I now have to convince myself.

See you later; I've got words to do.