How often do you write?

When exploring writing tips, one of the main pieces of advice given is ‘write daily’. Being a tip; it doesn’t say how much you should write each day. This can be an individual choice such as 500 words, or as much as 1000 a day. The NaoNoWriMo contest professes at least 1700 words a day, which I found enabled me to discover that I had that skill in me. I had no idea I could manage that many words a day, regardless of inspiration. Unfortunately, writing without being inspired tends to produce garbage, but editable garbage. The story outline is definitely there.

Most writers procrastinate, and I am no exception. My best writing times get interrupted by not only family and pets, but my own bad habits of wanting to visit my favorite web sites, read email, chat in a messenger program, or anything else that puts off the disappointment of struggling with words. I now have on my Web Start page, a message to myself “Did you write today?”. Perhaps I need to add the same thing to my desktop wallpaper?

There is something to be said for meditation and Zen. Zen, however, is not the stillness of mind, but the stillness of mind in the Chaos of our lives. This means being able to write despite the loud noise of kids playing outside my door, or worse- the quiet of two kids in the house! It means ignoring the phone, message alerts, or any other distraction for the time you write.

So here are a few tips I intend to follow for the next week to see if it helps;

  • Set writing goals. This can include word counts or writing for a period of time. I intend to focus on word count, because an allotment of time could still include time wasting.
  • Meditate before writing. Stilling the mind or refocusing to the task at hand can prove fruitful.
  • Use of a writing totem. I read about this in Chris Baty; No Plot? No Problem! No Problem! book, which mentions using hats, shirts, gloves, or even simple things like lighting a candle to trigger the mind to the task of writing. He is founder of the National Novel Writing Month contest.
  • Complete writing before doing anything else. First thing in the morning, before my son wakes up and before the phone rings, people visit, or the chores need doing; I need to get my writing done.
  • Keep a list of ideas next to my desk. Just in case of writer’s block, I keep a list of other ideas and projects to do. This includes article topics, title ideas, or story plots.
  • Take breaks. This sounds silly but play and removing oneself from the ‘work’ can actually help improve the creative flow.
  • Limit the wasteful type of writing. This, regrettably, includes blogs and fanfiction. If I want to consider myself a real writer, then I must set aside the play and non-paying type writing for the writing that pay me something. I will set myself a schedule for writing for the blogs, and fanfiction, but they get put on the backburner for now.

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1 Comment

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One response to “How often do you write?

  1. Ken Kiser

    Nice collection of tips and advice you have there. I firmly believe in all of them except the “totem” one, though I do engage in certain repetitive behaviors which i guess counts as the same thing.

    The last one is probably the most important of all, but I would include a lot of other activities as being poison to the serious writer. World Building, Character Profiles, Excessive notes and organization activities.

    Those are all things that makes the writer “think” they are being productive when they aren’t. ;)

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