where the writers are
In search of discipline

Over at the authors' blog for my forthcoming book's publisher, I've written a post about my experience with a site called 100words.com, something I embarked on because last month I was stuck on several writing projects lately and, instead of focusing on one, I've been bouncing among them and getting very little done. My writing output slowed to almost nothing, and I was finding it very easy to play hooky and doing anything but write. So, my friend Scott suggested this. After all, anyone can write a hundred words, right?

Can you do it every day for a month, though?

I decided to find out. The answer, apparently, is yes. And several of the posts have ended up being parts of a draft for my next novel. Not bad.

So tell me: what do you do to reinforce self-discipline?

14 Comment count
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I loved 100 words

I've done it twice successfully, and not-so-successfully a few more times than that. I did find that if I just did it myself, without posting about it, that I didn't hold to it as well as when I posted them one by one. Lesson there, perhaps.

For The Novel, I've been posting a word count on the fridge like a child displaying finger-paintings. It seems to help - I get twitchy if it stays the same too long.

For short stories, I don't usually need more discipline - it's actually the opposite - if I'm not careful, I'll work solely on short stories and "get to the novel later."

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Me too

When I was working on my novel, I often posted the word count on my blog. If the number didn't move much, I felt pressure.  

I keep wanting to work on the stories so I can get them out there, but honestly, working on the next novel is just so much more fun.

 And I had no idea you'd done 100 words too, but I just found your batch. It's a handy exercise, I think.  

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Only one posted to the site,

Only one posted to the site, but I did it a few times after that:



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Please, someone stop me from re-writing again.

I'm working on about the fifth re-write of my novel, and don't feel any closer to the end than the first time I 'finished' it. I see glaring deficiencies every time I re-read it, and have finally scrapped the second half because it seems to bog down.

Some of this may be the anxiety of a fledgling author who is learning everything from scratch, but there seems to be a powerful urge to never complete it and have it found wanting. How does a person just starting out get past that hurdle? Maybe I should have started off writing short stories, but at this point that seems like just another way to distract myself from finishing

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I got out of it by giving

I got out of it by giving what I'd written to someone else and having them tell me what they thought of it. Finding a writing group can help, or taking a workshop. You may find that what you thought were deficiencies were not as bad as that, or you may find that the fifth draft was absolutely necessary. I wrote four drafts of my novel over the course of seven years, but the last two were within the space of six months.

Also, just because you're rewriting one novel, don't take that to mean you can't start working on that other idea you have. I think of it as a six-burner (or more) stove; lots of pots are going at once, but they're not all boiling. Some are just simmering.

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Love it!

I love the 100 words a day idea. The thing that gets in the way of my writing (aside from myself) is teaching. It's one of those jobs where one can't seem to stop looking for new things to bring into the classroom. When I was working on my first novel I shared the process with the students and it got to the point where they were asking me how far I was and when I was going to be done. It was like having a rather large cheerleading group in my life. That was quite handy. Now that I'm in a new state at a different school I'm adjusting... such a creature of habit I find myself needing to learn new discipline. So thank you for the 100 words a day idea.

As for the endless rewrite. I made twelve hard copies of my novel and sent it to family and friends who would not hesitate to tell me their honest opinion. Incredibly helpful. I found the break I took while they were reading (and some wrote copious notes!) gave me a chance to re-read it with a new perspective.

Thank you for sharing this exercise :)


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You're welcome!

Sometimes it feels like we just have to get out of our own ways and let ourselves write. Best of luck adjusting to the new school and finding your discipline again. I'm thinking this Saturday might be my day to spend doing nothing but writing.

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I looked at the 100 words a day

I love hearing about websites that writers use. The community of writers at the redroom is amazing. I have been writing blogs for the past few months and as I become confident. I started writing a story (maybe its a novel) about a grandmother and a daughter that are very close. I think its a good story and inspiring to read about a close connection. I see that writing like everything takes practice. Writing and rewrites it slowly becomes clearer and clearer. The characters take shape and the story reveals itself. It is a work of art isn't it?

Thanks for the webiste info


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Any new idea that makes me write is a good one...

I think the 100 word a day idea is fabulous! Nothing like incremental goals to make the vast abyss of book writing less overwhelming. I'm going to try it immediately.
My last writing motivator was not so impressive -- I promised myself to write for three hours everyday. No internet, no eating, no nothing. Just writing. It worked for a while but the mind grows weary of its own tricks and needs a new one to try.
So thank you, Jeffrey for the suggestion. And I hope by the time the 100 words thing is no longer working, you will have come up with another.
Btw, I have found that the biggest distraction for me is promoting the book I already wrote, which came out in March of 2010. There always seems to be one more thing I should be doing to get it out there. It's a bottomless pit. Arrgh.

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My pleasure, Zoe!

It's funny how we have to trick ourselves into writing sometimes. Other times, it feels like I've been possessed and the keyboard is like the Red Shoes and I can't stop typing.

I haven't had one of those in a while, alas.

My book comes out this fall and I keep having to remind myself that promotion is not writing, tweeting is not writing, and posting to Facebook is not writing. At least, it's not getting me any further on book #2.

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helpful info and comments

I find the writers shares helpful overall because it gives me some sort of reference for me own experience writing. This 100 words a day idea is great.

My background is in painting and watching my fellow artists over the years the ones that do it for a living treat it like a job. One old classmate is very busy painting murals. He worked for five years painting billboards and although this sounds romantic and fun he really got tired of being out in the weather and sun in the middle of nowhere. It seems to me writing is a lifestyle and not an event. So the more I have built writing into my daily routine I think the easier it is.

For me I find writing comes very naturally in the morning. I go to sleep with a problem or issue and seemingly almost miraculously receive a clue on how to proceed. I get soooo much out of hearing about the writing process. I am trying now to do two pages a day on a novel and not get hung up on any specific element at this point in the process.

I appreciate the other writers and find this site helpful.

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Funny... I've also found

Funny... I've also found that having something else IMPORTANT to do, really motivates me to spend more time writing at the computer or on paper (instead of just in my head!). I suppose procrastination can work both ways.

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The night owl approach.

I tend to stay up late at night, and I often have what seems like a good idea and rush to get it down before I forget. The cold light of day often reveals it to be rubbish, but there's usually the kernel of an idea mixed in, so I throw away the rest and grind on what's left for a while.
I have a whole notebook full of random thoughts that I scribble down as they occur to me, but unless I'm fairly specific, the context often gets lost, and a week later I will wonder what the hell I was thinking.

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Random Notes

Since I work in retail, I have a similar problem in that an idea will occur to me, but it's not like I can stop what I'm doing and write for a few minutes - so I scribble them down on notebooks or jot them into my iPhone.

There have been some odd turns of phrases, but it's a great exercise to go through them and file/type them up - especially if you've got a spouse glaring meaningfully at the piled up scraps of paper threatening to tumble over and bury the couch - it often sparks you to revisit an idea or elaborate on an idea a bit more before you toss it out.