Thursday, March 8, 2012

Writing momentum

Last month, the writing group did its own version of NaNoWriMo, which we called SWANoWriMo, because the writing group is SWAG, for the Social Writing Assistance Group.

While I reached my goal of over 50,000 new words written in my current work-in-progress, I didn't yet finish my manuscript. I did, however, line everything up for the climax, and figure out a point for a character who'd been hovering all book, waiting to do something useful. It has been easy, therefore, to keep working on it, and keep plugging away. After all, I'm almost done, and I get to write the fun part now.

It's always easier to make a regular habit of writing if I've been writing regularly. That seems common sense to you published authors, I'm sure, but I write this blog for people even newer at this than me, so I'm going to talk about that.

As with most good practices with writing, how you approach "regularly" will vary. Some people set aside at least 15 minutes or a few hundred words to write every single day. Others set a timer during which they must focus on writing, and they move on to other tasks when the timer goes off. Other souls much stronger than I get up an hour earlier every morning to spend it writing, when it's quiet and they're benefiting from the creativity of tiredness. Still others write during their lunch breaks unless it's a working lunch, or three times a week, or only on weekends.

I say it doesn't matter what your schedule is or how often you write, so long as it's a regular event. I have found, though, that planning to write every night when I get home has me thinking all day about what I'll write that night, and looking forward to getting a scene I've mapped out down in writing. It adds an anticipation value. I've also found that, if I end my writing for the evening having finished a scene, I'll have a harder time picking it back up. I prefer to pick up my writing on a cliffhanger.

I doubt you're exactly the same as me in regards to your writing and habits. You may find that leaving off mid-thought makes you delete a lot of half-sentences or half-scenes. You may find that, having spent all day in front of a computer, you haven't the energy to tap away for another couple of hours when you get home from work, to which I'd advise you consider writing things out by hand. What's important is that you know what's most effective for you. And the only way to find out is to try it, and compare results. To start with, your daily word count is usually a good gauge of your output, though you may find that the writing you spend less time editing afterwards is what you're hoping to duplicate.

Even if you're not terribly productive during your regular writing time, it is important to set it aside, because life won't make time for your writing. Even if you only tap out a few dozen words, that's a few dozen you didn't have the day before. You can have an abysmal daily output, and still write a book a year. You will find, though, that several days of a few hundred words here and there will turn into a few thousand-word days, as you work through the difficult scenes or find your voice.

The only thing that separates writers from non-writers is who's putting words on a page. To do that, you need to start today. Keep doing it tomorrow. Then, keep it up.

It sounds like so much. And yet, once you have that momentum behind you, you'll wonder what took you so long.


  1. Great post and so true.
    when I'm out of the writing habit I find it really hard to get into the grove. And switching writer hat for editing cap? Holy hell is that stuck on your head like superglue! ;)

    1. I can only imagine. I have a hard enough time turning off my inner editor to get the story down.

      Perhaps you need to read my post on permission to suck?